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China extends helping hands abroad

07-30-2010 10:16 BJT

BEIJING, July 30 (Xinhuanet) -- China has provided aid to more than 160 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and in the South Pacific since 1950.

The nearly 2,000 aid projects include agriculture, construction, transport, medical care and education, according to figures from the Ministry of Commerce.

In addition to the money and materials that have been sent to these countries and regions, China has also provided foreign aid experts, among them a doctor, a rice expert and an engineer.

Rice to feed the world

Huang Dahui's tan and the scars on his hands are the result of years of work in fields all around the world.

The 45-year-old professor is the chief training officer with the China-aid Hybrid Rice Technology Training Center, based in Changsha, capital of Hunan province.

Hybrid rice is produced by crossbreeding different varieties of rice and much of the research was originally done in the 1970s by the man known as the "Father of Hybrid Rice" Yuan Longping.

His work in China helped significantly increase rice output and allowed 20 percent of the world's population to feed itself with just 7 percent of the world's farmland.

Huang, a former student of Yuan, has helped people in eight countries breed China's hybrid rice since 1996.

"Our goal is to eliminate hunger on Earth," Huang said in his simple office before giving a lecture to students from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

"Students don't need to pay anything and get a daily subsidy for meals and lodging. Lessons are offered in English, French and Portuguese," Huang said.

Teaching is all very well, but fieldwork, literally, is most important, said Huang, who taught hybrid rice seed selection in the United States from 1996 to 1999. Since then he has worked in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Liberia, Uzbekistan and India.

"Over the past 15 years a quarter of that time has been spent in foreign lands," Huang said.

More than 120 countries currently grow rice, and about 50 of them have introduced Chinese hybrid rice, Huang said.

"If rice-growing countries planted 50 percent more hybrid rice, food would not be scarce," he said.

Converting these countries to his cause is not an easy task, however, and working in mainly tropical countries means he has had to contend with high temperatures, up to 47 C in India.

Another difficulty is staying healthy. During Huang's stay in Sri Lanka there was dengue fever and he was the only one to stay and complete the training plan.

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