Innovation fuels China's seed industry

Innovative agricultural products, ranging from 40-kg watermelons to screw-like chilies, have caught the eyes of visitors to the ongoing Tianjin International Seed Expo 2021, which opened Saturday in north China's Tianjin Municipality.

China has made the development of the seed industry a major task of the country's agricultural and rural modernization. Many companies in the seed industry seek ways to develop new kinds of seeds to meet customers' increasing demands.

"We brought more than 30 varieties of chilies to the fair. As living standards have greatly improved, Chinese people now have a bigger appetite for high-quality chilies," said Dai Yunzhi, chairman of Hebei Linglan Agricultural Technology Co. Ltd. His company invests 20% of its annual sales revenue in seed research and development.

According to Dai, over one thousand hybrid varieties must be created each year before dozens are selected and possibly released to the market to meet different environmental and climate conditions.

"The screw-like chilies look good and taste better to make them more popular. Also, they can bring more earnings to farmers," Dai said. "One hectare of plantation can produce about 52.5 tonnes of screw-like chilies, bringing in a revenue of about 450,000 yuan (about 70,000 U.S. dollars) this year."

China's seed market is growing. As the world's second-largest seed market, China had more than 6,900 licensed seed companies, with a seed market size of about 120 billion yuan in 2020, said Zhang Yanqiu, president of the China National Seed Association.

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