Rice production in China has more than tripled in the past five decades mainly due to increased grain yield rather than increased planting area. This increase has come from the development of high-yielding varieties and improved crop management practices such as nitrogen fertilization and irrigation. However, yield stagnation of rice has been observed in the past ten years in China. As its population rises, China will need to produce about 20% more rice by 2030 in order to meet its domestic needs if rice consumption per capita stays at the current level. This is not an easy task because several trends and problems in the Chinese rice production system constrain the sustainable increase in total rice production. Key trends include a decline in arable land, increasing water scarcity, global climate change, labor shortages, and increasing consumer demand for high-quality rice (which often comes from low-yielding varieties). The major problems confronting rice production in China are narrow genetic background, overuse of fertilizers and pesticides, breakdown of irrigation infrastructure, oversimplified crop management, and a weak extension system. Despite these challenges, good research strategies can drive increased rice production in China. These include the development of new rice varieties with high yield potential, improvement of resistances to major diseases and insects, and to major abiotic stresses such as drought and heat, and the establishment of integrated crop management. We believe that a sustainable increase in rice production is achievable in China with the development of new technology through rice research.
2009 by The Crop Science Society of Japan