In Memory of Prof. Yuan Longping

It is with great sadness for the College to learn of the death of Prof. Yuan Longping, “Father of Hybrid Rice” and Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who passed away on 22 May, 2021 in Changsha, Hunan Province at the age of 91.

Born in 1929, Prof. Yuan is the pioneer in researching and developing super hybrid rice in China. He graduated from Southwest Agriculture College in 1953 and then devoted himself to agricultural education and research. Since 1960s, he started to enhance the rice cultivation by the techniques of hybrid rice breeding. His contributions to the food security of the nation and the world, as well as the scientific development in agriculture are beyond words.

In 2001, Prof. Yuan received the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa from CUHK. In 2016, he was awarded the inaugural Lui Che Woo Prize in the Sustainability category. In the same year, as the officiating guest in the graduation ceremony of S.H. Ho College, Prof. Yuan shared with the graduating class the key elements for his success, namely “knowledge, hard work, inspiration and opportunity”.

Prof. Samuel Sun, former Master of S.H. Ho College, is a good friend of Prof. Yuan. He shared his fond memory with Prof. Yuan, “In 1996, I returned to CUHK and served there. In 1999, in order to apply for establishing the Centre for Areas of Excellence, I flied to Changsha, Hunan Province and visited Prof. Yuan. I suggested to him that we could collaborate in research. My biological techniques in agriculture and his traditional method in hybrid rice breeding could make a breakthrough in enhancing rice cultivation. He was a man of quick wit and open mind, and accepted my invitation. Later on, he sent his son and daughter-in-law to study PhD under my supervision at CUHK. Since then, we had been working together frequently, like teacher-student and friends. Colleagues and students from the laboratories in both Hong Kong and Changsha exchanged their ideas and became close friends too. All these memories still seem vivid to me. What I miss the most about Prof. Yuan is his practical and flexible personality, as well as his persistence to look for new seeds in the fields every early morning. I am deeply grieved for the loss of a good friend and miss him very much.”