A rare red-coloured indigenous Chinese rice species which was on the brink of being extinct due to its low yields is being revived in the country.
The rice species known as "Kermes rice" was overlooked by farmers due to its low yields in 1970s, has a history extending over 300 years, and was once offered to the imperial court as tribute during the Qing Dynasty.
"It has not been easy but I have developed more than 13.09 acres of the crop since I got a handful of about 300 seeds seven years ago," said Zheng Hehai, head of Tangshan Daoxiang Rice Co. Ltd.
One of 1,40,000 rice varieties in the world, kermes is indigenous to eastern Hebei autonomous council in China.
The rice seeds carry high contents of amino acid and capable of raising haemoglobins in the blood, state-run Xinhua news agency reported quoting Chen Hongcun, an agricultural official in Tangshan.
New, improved kermes rice, which will be planted next year in Zheng's farm, has had its height reduced from 150 cm to 120 cm and its awns shortened.
Its growth period has been extended by 15 days. These have made kermes more economical to farm while maintaining its delicious taste, the report said.