Australian and Chinese scientists join in grain security practical research

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th November 2011

Researchers from Australia and China are collaborating to improve global food security by mounting a scientific counterattack on the pests and diseases that ravage food and tree crops.

The Australian Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (CRCNPB) is working with two leading Chinese science agencies and a university to curb losses of grain and other vital crops to insects, moulds and plant diseases.

The CEO of CRCNPB Dr Simon McKirdy described the collaboration as making good sense from every perspective. He said, “When we visited China to sign these agreements, we were told food is in fact the Chinese government’s number two priority overall. We saw clear evidence of the massive reinvestment and technical tooling-up they are now making in food and agricultural science.” He said the number one priority

The CRCNPB’s Memoranda of Understanding are with the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine and the Chinese Academy of State Administration of Grain, while the third MoU will be signed shortly with Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University of China. These MoUs each provide primarily for increased joint research, and enhanced exchange of scientists and PhD students between the partners.

The initial research focus of the collaboration will be in diagnostics – timely identification of plant pests and diseases – and in the management of pests in stored grain.

Dr McKirdy explained, “Australia is recognised as a world leader in dealing with insect pests in stored grain, and the Chinese are keen to partner with us in this area. Also they really emphasised their concerns about the need to reduce the use of fumigants and other chemicals used in food production.”

He added that China is a major market for Australian grain and horticultural exports, with potential to grow significantly. The biosecurity collaboration will assist this development.

“Australia will benefit by building a greater understanding of the import requirements for Australian produce (as they apply to plant biosecurity) which will assist our grains and horticulture industries develop further markets in China,” Dr McKirdy said.