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China revives endangered local rice species

IANS | Last Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 16:24

Shijiazhuang: A rare indigenous rice species, which was almost extinct in the 1970s due to low output, is being revived in north China`s Hebei Province.

"It has not been easy but I have developed more than 5.3 hectares of the crop since seven years when I got a handful of about 300 seeds of kermes rice," said Zheng Hehai, head of Tangshan Daoxiang Rice Corporation Limited.

In the 1970s, farmers switched to other crops for their superior quality and stopped planting kermes rice after it was banned by the local government.

The rice variety, known as kermes rice for its red colour similar to the dyestuff, has a history of over 300 years.

Out of the estimated 140,000 rice varieties in the world, kermes rice is indigenous to eastern Hebei. The plant is 30 cm taller than general rice species, according to Zheng.

There are good reasons for persevering it. "First, it has a special nutritional value. Second, it would be regrettable if we lose something that has existed for several hundred years," he said.

Tests show the amino acid content in kermes rice is 2.5 times that of general rice and has hematinic and beauty maintenance functions, said Chen Hongcun, an agricultural official in Tangshan.

"Unlike genetically modified rice, kermes rice is an original species with no food safety concerns," Chen added.

First Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 16:24

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