Zhou Lei is a scientist who has committed himself to the development of new strains of rice that will help ensure food security for future generations of Chinese. His dedication to agricultural development is based on his scientific research, which he believes will play a crucial role in ensuring that the people of China not only have enough to eat, but also have access to healthy, nutritious food.
The importance of agriculture and rural development in China has been highlighted in the country’s No 1 Central Document, which is the first policy statement released by the central authorities each year. The 2023 document is the 20th of this century to focus on agricultural and rural affairs, emphasizing the vital role that these sectors play in the country’s overall development.
Zhou Lei’s work is aligned with the goals outlined in the No 1 Central Document, particularly the emphasis on strengthening agriculture through science and technology. As a researcher, he is focused on developing new strains of rice that are more resilient to climate change, pests, and diseases, and that can help increase yields and improve the quality of the crops.
Through his research, Zhou Lei is also working to address some of the challenges facing the agriculture sector in China, including the need to produce more food with fewer resources, and the need to ensure that the food produced is healthy and safe for consumption. He believes that by harnessing the power of science and technology, it is possible to achieve these goals and help secure a better future for the people of China.
Zhou Lei’s dedication to agricultural development and his commitment to using science and technology to address the challenges facing the sector are in line with the goals outlined in the No 1 Central Document. By focusing on research and innovation, he is helping to ensure that future generations of Chinese will have access to the healthy, nutritious food they need to thrive.
Zhou, a researcher at the Institute of Food Crops, Hubei Academy of Agricultural Sciences, has achieved significant progress in the genetic breeding of rice and its application research over the years. He is a winner of the China Youth May Fourth Medal, the top honor for outstanding young Chinese people. Zhou’s contributions to rice cultivation are substantial, having developed 16 new varieties of rice, which has increased grain production by over 1.5 billion kilograms, ensuring China has sufficient grain stocks to feed its people.
Zhou works with a highly educated and skilled group of young researchers, most of whom hold doctorate degrees. Zhou believes that it takes more than 10 years of academic training to become qualified for the research job, and he has been offered opportunities to go abroad and exchange experiences with peers overseas. During an academic visit to the United States, Zhou was able to observe the mechanization of the agricultural sector and the resulting higher yields per acre and lower rice prices in a country with a smaller population and richer resources. This experience made him realize that, despite China’s leading role in global rice research, its agricultural industry lagged behind other affluent countries.
Zhou acknowledges the immense potential for Chinese researchers to improve the country’s agricultural sector. He believes that there is still a long way to go in terms of mechanization, yields, and prices. However, he is optimistic about the future, noting that with continued investment in research and development, China’s agricultural industry can catch up with other affluent countries. He is also aware of the critical role that young people play in achieving this goal, and he is working with a talented team of young researchers to achieve this vision.
Zhou’s achievements in the genetic breeding of rice and application research are significant, and he is an inspiration to many young people in China. His work has contributed to ensuring that China has sufficient grain stocks to feed its people. He is also working to improve China’s agricultural industry by collaborating with a group of young, highly skilled researchers, and he believes that, with continued investment in research and development, China can catch up with other affluent countries and achieve a more prosperous future.
After returning to China, Zhou was determined to apply the knowledge he gained overseas to solve the problems facing the nation’s agricultural industry. Zhou and his team now work more than 300 days a year, dedicating themselves to research in the field. Their efforts have resulted in significant breakthroughs, including the cloning of cold-tolerant genes in rice, a major achievement in rice-breeding technology that effectively tackles the risks of grain reduction.
Despite their significant achievements, grain experts like Zhou prefer to spend most of their time in the field, rather than in an air-conditioned office. Zhou’s academy covers an extensive area of about 200 hectares, and his team has more than 4 hectares of field at their disposal. Eight members of the team spend at least seven to eight hours each day conducting on-site experiments to support their research.
In their quest to develop a quality rice variant with an excellent taste, texture, and appearance, Zhou and his team have spent almost a decade collecting germplasm and selecting mate parents. Their attention to detail and dedication to their work has resulted in the development of new rice strains that are helping to address food security issues in China.
Zhou and his team’s commitment to research and development has paid off, with their work helping to improve the agricultural industry in China. Despite the challenges facing the industry, they remain optimistic and continue to work tirelessly to develop new and innovative solutions to ensure that the Chinese people have access to quality food. Their hard work and dedication are an inspiration to others in the field, and their contribution to China’s agricultural sector is invaluable.
Breeding new strains of rice is a meticulous and time-consuming process that requires round-the-clock care. Zhou Lei, a researcher at the Institute of Food Crops, Hubei Academy of Agricultural Sciences, understands this well. He and his team work more than 300 days a year in the field, nurturing the rice crops they carefully selected and bred. They have even cloned cold-tolerant genes in rice for the first time, which mitigates the risks of grain reduction. Zhou likens his job to caring for a newborn baby, as they must protect the plants from being drowned in water or eaten by birds and rats.
Despite the team’s hard work, Zhou admits that scientific research requires some luck. Agriculture has always been sensitive to climate change, so it is essential to carefully observe the weather and adapt accordingly. For example, when southern China experienced extremely high temperatures, some of Zhou’s crops withered. But rather than losing hope, Zhou saw it as an opportunity for further study. He believes that sudden high temperatures can provide the proper conditions for selecting the best rice.
After going through tens of thousands of crossbreeding combinations, Zhou and his team successfully created a number of rice variants that meet the demands of the population. In addition to improving crop yields and rice quality, Zhou has developed a type of “functional rice” for people living with diabetes. This low-glycemic rice contains starch that cannot be degraded, so it will not turn into sugar even when consumed in large quantities.
As China’s food market has experienced a consumption upgrade due to rising living standards, Zhou and his team noticed the great appetite of Chinese people for crayfish. They introduced the method of rice-crayfish farming after years of field research, which can triple the income of farmers and enrich people’s dining tables.
Despite the tough working conditions, Zhou finds happiness and fulfillment in his research work. He takes great satisfaction in tasting his own creations and knowing that they will benefit more people in the future. After a hard day’s work, he loves to take a walk in the fields and enjoy the peace and tranquility while watching the beautiful sunset. This is the best reward for him.