Agriculturist creates national maize revolution

By Li Yang| (China Daily)| Updated : 2021-05-28

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Li Denghai, director of the National Maize Engineering Technology Center (Shandong) checks the status of maize in an experimental field. CHINA DAILY

Li Denghai, director of the National Maize Engineering Technology Center (Shandong) and president of the Shandong Denghai Seeds Company, has received 23 science and technology awards at the national and ministerial levels for breakthroughs made in breeding high-yield maize.

Born in Laizhou, Shandong province, Li has carried out more than 790 experiments on high-yield maize over the last 49 years. In 1972, the yield of maize per hectare in his experimental fields exceeded 7,500 kilograms, double the national average at the time. Today, some varieties of the compact hybrid corn developed by his team can yield twice that amount in experiments.

In the 1990s, maize seeds developed by Li were planted nationwide. Over the course of five years, more than 6.7 million hectares of farmland was planted, and yields increased by 10 billion kg. Since then, the seeds have been planted in more than 800 million hectares of farmland.

Li's company was floated on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2005, one of the few seed companies to be listed.

As far as the future goes, Li has said that he does not want to retire, but would rather continue working on projects that benefit the country socially and economically.

He said that life has no end, nor does innovation or the pursuit of high-yield seeds. "We, however, only live for a limited time, so we should devote our lives to the pursuit of unlimited scientific and technological innovation."