More than 170 strains of saltwater-tolerant rice have been selected from over 1,000 different contenders grown in experimental paddy fields in Hainan province. Chinese researchers hope to find at least one strain that can be grown nationally according to Mr. Zhang Guodong, executive director of the Qingdao Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Center in Shandong province.
It is estimated that China has up to 20 million hectares of saline- alkaline soil which can be utalised to grow saltwater rice, (rice that can survive the harsh saline-alkaline conditions).
Yuan Longping, also known as China’s “Father of Hybrid Rice,”
Currently it is projected that with the cultivated strain planted on 6.7 million hectares of saline-alkali land in different locations around China it is estimated that it can yield 30 billion kilograms every year, feeding up to 80 million people with an eventual target of more than 200 million people. In 2017 the highest yield yet reached 9.3 metric tons per hectare, far exceeding expectations.
The selected strains, grown in Hainan Province, will be planted on five different types of saline-alkali land around China to access the effects of different climatic, geological and sunlight conditions. According to Mr. Zhang "Saline-alkali-resistant rice in China is still in the scientific research and observation stage before full application".
Rice research is also carried out in other countries including Pakistan, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.