Joint lab brief3

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA)-CABI Joint Laboratory (Joint Lab) has set its sights on becoming a world recognized Centre of Excellence for collaborative research and technology transfer in green plant protection technology development.

The vision – outlined in a CABI Study Brief looking back on 12 years of achievement for the facility – will aim to be achieved through a specific focus on the prevention and control of transboundary crop pests and diseases by way of environmentally friendly biological control and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies.

The document, entitled ‘MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory: 12 years of achievement,’ is an output from an impact study, using qualitative approaches, to review stakeholders’ needs and priorities on functions and key collaboration areas, to assess the output efficiency through an input-output analysis, and to evaluate social and ecological benefits of the Joint Lab.

Lead author Dr Min Wan at CABI’s Centre in China, said, “The Joint Lab is delivering social and ecological benefits to stakeholders against its plans with a positive input-output ratio and significant research outputs. The Joint Lab has also successfully developed and implemented projects carrying out research in IPM and Invasive Alien Species, supporting south-south cooperation and technology transfer.”

The MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory for Bio-safety, located at Institute of Plant Protection of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (IPPCAAS) was launched in 2008 and since then has successfully led and/or implemented 32 international cooperation projects on research and technology transfer in the broad plant protection area.

More than 80 Chinese and overseas organizations have participated in these projects, with a total funding of approximately US$ 33 million. After 12-years of operation, the Joint Lab is now widely regarded as one of the top platforms of its type within the Chinese agricultural research and development community. The partnership is well placed to grow and expand the Joint Lab network domestically and globally to support China’s 14th Five Year Plan, the Belt and Road Initiative as well as CABI’s Medium Term Strategy.

Among the highlights – from a financial perspective – is that the Joint Lab provides good value for money for both CABI and China with an investment-benefit ratio of 1: 4.1. The overall satisfaction of the stakeholders of the Joint Lab is also very high with 65% of respondents saying the cooperation was ‘extremely successful and the outcomes reached or even exceeded their expectations.’

Prof Xueping Zhou, Director General of IPPCAAS and Co-Director of the Joint Lab, said, “With opportunities to collaborate with CABI’s global network of regional centres and member countries, as well as Chinese institutions and experts, the Joint Lab is well positioned to carry out state-of-the art research and technology transfer projects to support north-south, south-south and triangular cooperation.”

Dr Ulli Kuhlmann, Executive Director, Global Operations at CABI and Co-Director of the Joint Lab, said, “Growth will be achieved through continued investment and concerted strategic development of the Joint Lab in Beijing and the European Lab in Switzerland, strengthened partnerships with other partners in China and other countries, exploring the collaboration with the MARDI–CABI Joint Lab in Malaysia as well as potential opportunities to set up similar platforms in Pakistan and Kenya.”

The brief goes onto confirm that the Joint Lab has covered all stakeholder’s needs on its four functions. These include its roles as a research and development collaboration platform, a training and exchange centre, a third-party cooperative platform and as a government policy consultancy.

Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, Director, Memberships at CABI, said, “It is clear that the success can be attributed to the strong support from both the Chinese government and CABI, both politically and financially, a sound management mechanism through the Steering Committee, and a robust team led by Co-Directors with support of Liaison Secretaries. The study also provides lessons and recommendations for further development of the Joint Lab, which will be beneficial for similar collaborations between CABI and other member countries as well.”


Additional information

Main image: The 13th Joint Lab Steering Committee met virtually in April 2021 where ‘outstanding progress’ was reported despite the COVID-19 pandemic (Credit: CABI).

Full brief reference
Wan, M., Chen, J., Li, H., Zhang, J., Yuan, B., Zhang, Q., Zhang, F., Wu, K., Zhou, X., Kuhlmann, U. (2021). MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory: 12 years of achievement. CABI Study Brief 37: Impact.
You can read the full document here:

The study was funded by CABI Development Fund (CDF) and China’s donation to CDF. CABI is an international intergovernmental organisation and gratefully acknowledges its core financial support from member countries (and lead agencies) including the United Kingdom (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), China (Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs), Australia (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research), Canada (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), Netherlands (Directorate-General for International Cooperation), Switzerland (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Ireland (Irish Aid). See for details.

We would like to thank the donors of Joint Lab for their support, as well as our local, national and international partners for their hard work on project development and implementation. We would like to thank CABI colleagues from other CABI regional centres and teams who provided support to the establishment, development and promotion of the Joint Lab. Thanks to Frances Williams and Dannie Romney from CABI who kindly reviewed the study design and improved the manuscript.

Relevant news story
See also the news story ‘‘Outstanding progress’ made in all aspects of MARA China-CABI Joint Lab despite COVID-19 pandemic.’