CABI has paid a high-level visit to China to further strengthen partnerships that support progress towards sustainable food security and celebrate 15 years of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA)-CABI Joint Laboratory for Biosafety (Joint Lab).
Dr Daniel Elger, CABI CEO, led a delegation of senior officials and scientists from CABI’s centres in China, Africa and Europe, to take part in the 7th Global Forum of Leaders for Agricultural Science and Technology (GLAST 2023) and the International Symposium on Plant Biosafety (ISPB).
The week-long visit also provided an opportunity for CABI to hold high-level meetings with the MARA and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), as well as to meet other partners from China and elsewhere.
Strengthening partnerships in agricultural policymaking, research, innovation, and application
GLAST, initiated by CAAS in 2006 together with FAO and CGIAR, and then joined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2019, has addressed the essential role of agricultural technology and innovation in transforming global agri-food systems to become more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.
CABI has participated in all seven GLAST meetings since 2006. GLAST 2023, which brought together over 580 policymakers, research leaders, scientists, and practitioners from more than 50 countries and 15 international organisations, focused on Science and Technology leading the transformation of global agri-food systems.
Led by Dr Elger, the CABI Delegation at GLAST 2023 included Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, Director of Memberships, and Dr Feng Zhang, Regional Director, East & South-East Asia. Dr Elger gave a presentation at the session on “The role of cutting-edge and game-changing technologies in agricultural transformation.”
Here he spoke about the importance of increasing the reach, application and impact of sustainable practices and technologies in crop production, highlighting how CABI’s PlantwisePlus programme provides information to farmers through a mixture of face-to-face, digital and ‘mass extension’ approaches.
On partnership with China, Dr Elger said, “CABI and China have enjoyed a long history of successful partnership, particularly through the China MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory hosted by the Institute of Plant Protection of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (IPPCAAS).
“Thanks to substantial support from MARA, CAAS, IPPCAAS and CABI, the Joint Lab has driven innovation and outputs of real relevance to both Chinese and global needs in food and nutritional security, plant biosafety, food safety and sustainable development.
“As a valued Member Country, China played a key role in the development of CABI’s latest Medium-Term Strategy, which sets out five goals to help tackle hunger, poverty, gender inequality, climate change and the loss of biodiversity. We are working closely with China and our other Member Countries on the implementation of this strategy,” Dr Elger added.
Promoting international co-operations in plant biosafety
Dr Elger was joined by seven CABI senior managers and scientists at the International Symposium on Plant Biosafety held in Kunming, China.
Co-organised by CAAS, CABI and other partners, this symposium brought together 300 participants from 16 countries to share experiences and promote international cooperation around plant biosafety and building solid biosafety management systems to combat cross-border incursions by pests and diseases.
In recent years, transboundary pests, and diseases, such as fall armyworm and desert locust, have provided significant challenges to food security.
Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, Executive Director, Global Operations and Co-Director of the Joint-lab for CABI, delivered a keynote presentation on the importance of pest preparedness approaches to improve food security and food safety.
Dr Kuhlmann also highlighted some of CABI’s work to help smallholder farmers combat crop pests and disease outbreaks through CABI’s digital tools under the PlantwisePlus programme.
This includes the Crop App Index which is helping extension workers and smallholder farmers discover and select tools to support decision making in crop production and plant health.
Several other CABI scientists also presented on pest threats and their management at the ISPB meeting.
Celebrating 15 years’ milestone of the Joint Lab
A video was shown at IPSB highlighting successes of the Joint Lab over the past 15 years. Awards were given to six managers and scientists (in recognition of their efforts in the establishment of this important platform for joint research, capacity building, scientific exchange, technology transfer and policy consultancy.
Since its establishment in 2008, the Joint Lab has led or implemented more than 40 international cooperation projects involving research and technology transfer in the plant protection area.
Over 80 Chinese and overseas organizations have participated in these projects, with a total funding of around US$36 million. In 2021, a CABI-CAAS joint study reviewed the achievements of the Joint Lab and showed that it provides excellent value for money with an investment-benefit ratio of 1:4.
Professor Wu Kongming, President of CAAS (the first Co-Director of the Joint Lab for China), said, “The Joint Lab has played an important bridging role in some major triangular collaboration and South-South cooperation initiatives including the facilitation of agricultural technology transfers from China to other countries during the past 15 years.
“Building on what has been achieved, China looks forward to deepening our collaboration with CABI towards robust partnerships among China, CABI and CABI’s other Member Countries to ensure global food security and contribute to the realisation of the SDGs.”
At his opening remarks at ISPB, Dr Wei Zhenglin, Deputy Director General for International Co-operations at MARA, said, “The recently concluded ‘Belt and Road Summit’ held in Beijing stressed the importance of scientific and technological innovation – working with other countries to promote scientific and technological exchanges, build joint laboratories, and transfer technology.
“The China MARA-CABI Joint Lab will, therefore, have an even more important role to play, and greater opportunities for strategic research and innovation contributing to this important initiative and helping more of CABI’s Member Countries in their endeavours to ensure national food security.”
Dr Kuhlmann (the Co-Director of the Joint-lab for CABI), said, “15 years of outstanding research and innovation towards our shared vision of more sustainable food security have made the Joint-Lab one of the top institutions of its type within the Chinese agricultural research and development community. We stay ready to embrace more challenges and look forward to many more years of successful collaboration.”
Main image: The visit provided an opportunity for CABI to hold high-level meetings with the MARA, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and other partners.
Visit of Chinese delegation to CABI’s laboratories in Egham, UK
Also, this month, CABI’s laboratories in Egham, UK, hosted the visit of a Chinese delegation led by Shaohua Li, Deputy Director General, Rural Energy and Environment Agency (REEA) of MARA, to focus on greater collaboration on Invasive Alien Species (IAS).
This could include, for instance, the establishment of a joint field demonstration plot on the biological control of invasive weeds, such as the use of the alligator weed flea beetle (Agasicles hygrophila) against alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides).
There is also a blog on the 15th anniversary of the Joint Lab – ‘Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA)-CABI Joint Laboratory for Biosafety celebrates landmark’ – which can be read here.
See also the study brief ‘MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory: 12 years of achievement.’