27 November 2015 – On 25 November, CABI and key Chinese agencies celebrated 20 years of China’s CABI membership, a partnership that has seen close and fruitful co-operation across a wide range of areas, including information and knowledge management, scientific research, and international development in the fields of agriculture and the environment. The 20th anniversary was marked by a high-level workshop in Beijing, co-organized by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and CABI, and attended by some 100 representatives from Chinese and international partner organizations.

Addressing food and nutrition security, promoting innovation, stepping up agricultural modernization, ensuring sustainable development, safeguarding people’s living quality and improving support for the poor are important elements of China’s focus in economic and social development; elements that have been re-iterated by China’s new 13th Five Year plan. China has 9% of the world’s arable land to feed 21% of world’s population and faces complex challenges. Since the 1980s, it has made remarkable progress in achieving all aspects of its economic and social development goals. China’s “Open Door” policy and emphasis on deepening international collaboration have played an important part in this success.

China joined CABI in August 1995, building on a long-term collaboration that started in the early 1980s and focused on agricultural information, and knowledge sharing and dissemination. This opened the way for further co-operation and collaboration, giving Chinese organizations the opportunity to purchase CABI’s publications at discounted prices, benefit more from CABI’s scientific and information services, and enable China to play an important role in the organization’s governance, policies and strategic direction.

China’s membership of CABI was a major boost to full internationalization of the organization and led to a considerable expansion of CABI’s interests and activities throughout Asia, and other parts of the world. Today, CABI’s centre in Beijing works across the whole of East Asia, and aims to help several countries in the region address the challenges of food security and environmental sustainability, as well as transfer Chinese technologies and knowledge to other developing countries in other regions.

At the workshop’s opening ceremony and keynote session, Dr Qu Dongyu, Vice Minister of Agriculture, Dr Trevor Nicholls, CABI’s CEO, and Dr Tang Shengyao, Deputy Director General of International Co-operations, MoA (also CABI’s Executive Council member for China) highlighted significant achievements and milestones in this special relationship.

Their speeches were followed by spotlight presentations on themes which included: the new Joint Laboratory paradigm for collaboration; sustainable south-south agricultural technology transfer; big data platform construction; transfer of Chinese biological control technology for managing pests in developing countries; and the introduction of Plantwise to China.

One key milestone in China’s 20-year membership of CABI has been the creation of the Joint Laboratory for Biosafety between the MoA and CABI in 2008 following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties. The Joint Laboratory is now widely regarded as one of the top platforms of its type within the Chinese agricultural research and development community. Since its inception in 2008, the Joint Laboratory has undertaken several successful international research and development co-operation projects. These include: increasing rice and maize production in the Greater Mekong sub-region; increasing cabbage production in DPR Korea; facilitating international congresses of around 500 experts to discuss how to combat biological invasions; and international workshops to look for objective methods to assess the benefits and risks of Genetically Modified crops.

It has also hosted many scientific exchanges, study tours and training courses where researchers and practitioners from other developing countries such as DPR Korea, Rwanda, and Pakistan, and young Chinese scientists could benefit from capacity building. The Joint Laboratory has enabled researchers to publish peer-reviewed papers in key scientific journals. Among the recent success stories – and a good example of south-south co-operation – is the UK DFID-funded project on soil pest management in Rwanda, which transfers technology from China to Rwanda (also a CABI member country) with funding from the UK through the Joint Laboratory platform. In recognition of the achievements of the Joint Laboratory, the Chinese Government granted a Friendship Award to Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Co-Director of the Joint Laboratory in 2012.

Looking forward to further collaboration between China and CABI, Vice Minister Qu noted: “In recent years, China has been increasingly paying more attention to south-south co-operation and technology transfer to other developing countries. China has launched several initiatives, such as ‘Chinese Agricultural Technology Going Aboard’ and ‘The Belt & Road’ initiative. The latter is aimed at improving trade and co-operations via the Silk Road Economic Belt through the Asian continent, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road that covers the Asia-Europe sea trade and Asia-Africa connections. Such an initiative will provide both parties with good opportunities to promote multilateral and triangular collaboration as CABI is well positioned to act as a bridge through its network of member countries, regional centres and partners, and to provide technical expertise.”

Talking about strategic significance of strengthening partnership between CABI and China, Dr Trevor Nicholls, said: “CABI appreciates very much the long-term co-operations and support from the Chinese Government to CABI, both politically and financially”. The well-structured and extensive Chinese agricultural research and information systems combined with CABI’s unique expertise and resources will form a strong alliance to contribute to Chinese sustainable agricultural development and to global food and nutritional security, and poverty alleviation. World agriculture will undoubtedly benefit from such an alliance.”

Important Milestones in the China-CABI Partnership:

1981 Close relationship  between China and CABI started, and abstracting arrangements set up
1992-5 Implementation of the “Upgrading of Chinese information services” project, funded by ADB
1995 China joined CABI
2002 CABI China Office  was opened
2004 China hosted CABI’s   Review Conference
2007 China-CABI Joint   Summit (including signing of MoU with MoA) and CABI Regional Consultation   held in Beijing
2008 The Chinese MoA-CABI   Joint Laboratory for Biosafety was established
2012 Joint-Lab   Co-Directors honours CAE Academician and Friendship Award of the Chinese   Government
2015 High-level Workshop  on 20 Years of Strategic Collaboration between China and CABI

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