Work carried out by the centre is wide-ranging and addresses a variety of issues related to sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.
One of the key challenges for the region is food security. Staff at the centre work to address this in a number of ways, including through improving access-to-market for smallholder famers and helping them tackle plant health problems. Sustainable crop management is encouraged, and has delivered increased yields and improved food security.
The use of safe biological control methods to manage agricultural pests is promoted. The resulting reduction in use of pesticides by local farmers has helped protect local biodiversity and reduce the impact of agriculture on the local environment, as well as opening up increased trading opportunities.
With a lack of funds preventing many of the region’s libraries from stocking the latest scientific literature, the centre works to ensure access to cutting-edge scientific knowledge. Staff set up sponsorship and licensing arrangements, and bring together research and educational centres so that they can buy information resources in bulk at competitive rates. The centre also facilitates the flow of research information out of the region, and encourages technology transfer.
None of this can be achieved in isolation, and the centre works closely with a number of governmental agencies, research and extension institutions, including the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and many more.
Looking ahead, food security will continue to be a priority, and the centre also sees great scope for continued work around information provision and technology transfer for south-south cooperation.
How do CABI and China work together?
Over the past three decades, CABI and China have co-operated on a wide range of information and scientific areas, including integrated pest management methods for cotton in China and tackling invasive weeds, such as Mikania micrantha, water hyacinth and privet, which cause serious economic losses and threaten native biodiversity. CABI works with China on capacity building and publishing, such as long-term abstracting arrangements to disseminate Chinese information worldwide. CABI has also been involved in the Chinese White Agriculture Program (Microbial Agriculture), concerned with the use of microorganisms to help meet the multiple challenges of significantly increasing food production in China.
In 2008, CABI joined with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture to establish the Joint Laboratory for Biosafety at the Institute of Plant Protection in the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing. The partners are working together on invasive species, integrated pest management technologies and development of biopesticides. This joint initiative offers a platform for research collaboration, a centre for training and scientific exchanges, an open platform for joint collaboration with third parties and a consultancy service.
Global demand for animal-sourced foods is accelerating. Fishmeal and crops such as soya are key ingredients in animal feeds but are not ecologically or economically sustainable. Insect protein presents a viable alternative. The PROTEINSECT project is exploring fly larva (maggots), which are nutritious and can be mass produced at low cost, as animal feed. It will develop and optimize maggot production systems, determine safety and quality criteria and evaluate the performance of protein extracts.