Chinese scientists have successfully developed numerous types of rice that have the ability to grow in areas of high salinity such as seawater. The scientists expected that they would produce 4.5 tonnes of rice per hectare of land but in fact managed to greatly surpass expectations.
Current commercial efforts to grow saline-tolerant rice produce roughly 1.5 kilograms per hectare which the researchers claim is ‘not profitable and not even worth the effort’. In China alone there are one million square kilometres of land where the salinity is too high for crops to grow; the hope is that these new varieties of rice will allow some of these areas to be used for agriculture. If one tenth of these high salinity areas were planted with the seawater-resistant rice, they could produce 50 million tonnes of food which is enough to feed 200 million people.