Beijing, China: An agronomist who was acclaimed as a Chinese national hero for helping develop hybrid rice and alleviating hunger for millions throughout the vast nation died on Saturday at the age of 90, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency,
Yuan Longping, dubbed the “Father of Hybrid Rice” in China, is credited with developing the first high-yield hybrid rice variety in 1973.
Yuan died in a hospital in Changsha, Hunan province’s capital, according to Xinhua. It stated that he had been afflicted with an undisclosed disease.
Hybrid rice, which experts claim can yield 20% more than conventional types, has since been widely planted in China and rice-growing countries around the world.
It is acknowledged with assisting in the alleviation of food supply concerns in China, which has the world’s highest population of 1.4 billion people.
According to Xinhua, hybrid rice is now planted on 16 million hectares of agricultural land in China, or 57 percent of the country’s total rice-planting area, helping to feed an additional 80 million people each year.
Within a few hours of the announcement, the news of Yuan’s death had been seen nearly a billion times, with web users both mourning his loss and praising his achievements.