A team of Chinese experts is imparting China’s rice-growing technology in the Dominican Republic to help the country improve the yield and quality of rice. Since October, the three-member team has been experimenting on 1.3 hectares of land provided by the Dominican National Rice Training Center in Banao, a town some 80 km northeast of the capital Santo Domingo. The initiative is part of a cooperation project between the department of agriculture and rural affairs of central China’s Hunan province and the Dominican Agriculture Ministry’s department of international cooperation. “We have selected five local varieties of rice for field cultivation, and those varieties have entered the binding and uprooting stage,” Chinese agricultural expert Yu Yunxiang told Xinhua. The resulting crop, said Yu, will be studied to analyze the state of rice output and growth in a tropical country with abundant rainfall, heat, flat terrain and fertile soil, which are favorable natural conditions for rice-growing with great production potential. Meanwhile, high temperatures and humidity make crops prone to pests and diseases, so more observation and research into potential solutions are needed, he added. “Starting in June, we are going to select from 18 Chinese hybrid rice varieties, five high-yield, high-quality and stress-resistant ones that will be used for demonstration in two paddy fields of about 6.6 hectares,” said Yu. The seeds to be planted in these fields were specially brought from Hunan, the cradle of Chinese hybrid rice and one of the first Chinese provinces to develop cooperation projects with the Dominican Republic after diplomatic relations were established on May 1, 2018. Agricultural machinery and equipment from China will also be used, along with planting technology that should help the country improve its level of mechanized production, and prevent and control diseases and pests that harm agricultural production. “We expect the average yield of demo varieties to increase by 25 percent compared to local varieties,” Yu said. Agricultural cooperation is expected to go beyond rice to include premium Chinese vegetables to be planted in other parts f the Dominican Republic. The goal is to promote cultivation techniques for these high-yield vegetables in greenhouses to raise local production levels and help the Caribbean country earn more foreign revenue by exporting agricultural goods. “We are optimistic about cooperation because the prospects are very good,” Yu said. Julio Cesar Lopez, an experienced agronomist at the Dominican Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Research, said China has outstanding experience in growing rice and the Dominican Republic aims to absorb as much of this knowledge as possible “so that our producers make progress.” “We want to combine the efforts of a culture like China, which has been consuming and producing rice for thousands of years, with what we have to get the best out of it,” Lopez said. The Caribbean country is just taking its first steps in cultivating hybrid rice because producing seeds is hard work, he said. This initiative also hopes to reduce production costs as much as possible so Dominican producers can expand their profit margins delivering better rice to the market, he added. The Dominican Republic is self-sufficient in rice production, with an average annual output of approximately 600,000 tons roduced by some 300,000 farmers.