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Agricultural researchers eyeing global outreach

Xu Wei
Updated: Jan 15,2016 7:48 AM     China Daily

A worker drives a made-in-China tractor to plow farmland in Zimbabwe in November. Chinese enterprises were invited to conduct agricultural cooperation with local farmers. [Photo/Xinhua]

Academy urged to focus on new crop varieties, livestock breeds, biotech

The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences will establish an overseas agriculture research center to facilitate the export of more agricultural technologies and to encourage more international cooperation, the academy’s president said on Jan 14.

Li Jiayang, vice-minister of agriculture and president of the academy, said at a work conference in Beijing that the academy will seek to establish more multinational joint agricultural labs and agricultural technology exhibition centers during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).

The move is part of an effort to push forward a more global agricultural technology development strategy and to serve the national Belt and Road Initiative, he said.

Li said the institute will first seek to establish exhibition centers in Africa and Latin America to pitch Chinese technology and products.

“The export of agricultural technology is an area with huge potential,” he said. The technologies should be used to tap the international market in the context of China’s going global strategy, he said.

The academy will first prioritize the establishment of multinational labs in areas including biotechnology, animal husbandry, veterinary medicine and agricultural resources and environment.

The academy has so far been able to demonstrate and promote 70 hybrid rice varieties in 15 countries in Asia and Africa during the past five years. It has also established joint agricultural labs in countries including Brazil, Australia, Belgium and Kazakhstan.

Zhang Taolin, vice-minister of agriculture, said at the conference that the academy should seek breakthroughs in key research areas, such as the development of new crop varieties, livestock breeds, smart agricultural machineries and agricultural biotechnology.

The control and prevention of agricultural pollution will be another major challenge to conquer in the next five-years, as the country is faced with mounting agricultural pollution.

The Ministry of Agriculture said in a guideline in April that it is targeting more than 90 percent of farmland in China using specially formulated fertilizers. It will conduct soil tests to determine how much and what types of fertilizers are needed, and has set a target of a zero increase in the use of fertilizers and pesticides by 2020.

“The decrease in acreage and quality of farmland, the overuse of groundwater and pollution from agriculture will be pressing challenges the country’s agricultural sector will face in the next five years,” Zhang said.

Overuse of groundwater now affects more than 300,000 square kilometers in China, an area approximately the size of Italy, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.

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