Rice-breeding expert always called himself a farmer
Chen Yongkang always called himself a farmer. The Songjiang native, who lent a hand in his family farm from the age of 13, was a rice expert, who helped the country ease food shortages in the early 1950s with his high-yield breed.
Born into a big family of farmers, Chen (1907-1985) started laboring in the rice paddies as a young boy, and was already a veteran farmer by the time he turned 25.
In the 1940s, Chen, based on years of experience in the land, selected a single-season rice breed by a very traditional method that could breed a new variety with excellent performance by elimination and continuous experiments and planting.
With a rice yield of 500 kilograms per mu (667 square meters), Chen quickly made his name in the agricultural field. In 1951, he harvested 716.5kg, more than twice the average output, which set the record for the highest yield of rice per mu in east China at that time.
In 1952, Chen was honored by the Ministry of Agriculture for his contribution to the country. It is estimated that about 50,000 farmers visited Chen that year, and learned from him and his farming experience.
Foreigners and journalists from countries such as the former Soviet Union and India also came to visit.
In 1956, 120 chests of high-yield rice samples were sent to 15 countries, including the former Soviet Union, India, Myanmar and Japan, for exhibition and skill exchange.
In 1958, Chen was employed as a special researcher of the East China Institute of Agricultural Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.