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Greater Global Collaboration in Farm Research 'Needed'

Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu yesterday called for greater cooperation in international research to help feed China's growing population amid severe environmental woes and the challenge of climate change.

"Having a sustainable agriculture sector and maintaining grain security are our top priorities," Hui said in a congratulatory letter to a high-level agricultural science conference in Beijing.

Technological advances have helped raise China's agricultural productivity tremendously, with the grain output jumping from 300 million tons in 1978 to an estimated 500 million tons this year, he said.

But China still faces the challenges of shrinking arable land area, a growing population, rising grain prices and global climate change, he said. And "science and technology can play a bigger role to help address all these challenges".

Corroborating Hui, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Chair Katherine Sierra said scientists under her network will continue cooperating with their Chinese colleagues and other stakeholders to promote agricultural development.

"Our research centers are already working with China to confront those challenges, and our joint efforts will be greatly enhanced in the future," she said.

CGIAR Director Wang Ren said technologies and approaches for adapting agriculture to climate change, as well as tools for monitoring systems now get high priority in cooperation.

"We have realized that the conflict between agriculture intensification and environmental sustainability has become pronounced," he said. "CGIAR will clearly be a key actor in global efforts to fight climate change and other challenges."

The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences President Zhai Huqu agreed with Wang, saying the overuse of chemicals and pesticides in agriculture, degradation of farmland and contamination of groundwater are big concerns, too.

(China Daily December 4, 2007)

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