It is only fitting that the World Food Prize for 2004, the same year dedicated by the United Nations as the International Year of Rice, would honor two distinguished individuals known for their contributions to helping farmers produce more rice to achieve food security, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General, Jacques Diouf.
Professor Yuan Longping of China, Director-General of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center in Changsha, Hunan, China, has been selected as a co-recipient of The World Food Prize for his breakthrough achievement in the early 1970s in developing the genetic tools necessary for hybrid rice breeding, known as a three-line system. His achievement led to the world's first successful and widely grown high-yielding hybrid rice varieties with yields 20% above conventional varieties.
His altering of the self-pollinating characteristic of rice made large-scale farming of hybrid rice possible. These achievements dramatically increased rice yields and grain output in China, providing food to feed an additional 60 million people each year. His approach is now being adapted to many other countries in Asia and around the world.
Dr. Monty Jones of Sierra Leone, former senior rice breeder at the West Africa Rice Development Center (WARDA), presently Executive Secretary, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), has been selected a co-recipient for developing in the 1990s the "New Rice for Africa" (NERICA).
His rice is uniquely adapted to the growing conditions of West Africa, by successfully crossing the Asian O. sativa with the African O. glaberrima strains to produce drought and pest resistant, high yielding new rice varieties, a feat which had not been achieved before in the history of rice breeding. His accomplishment is already producing enhanced harvests for thousands of poor farmers, most of them women, with potential benefit for 20 million farmers in West Africa alone.