Partnerships Promoted in Research Workshop to Mark 20 Years of Collaboration Between NIBIO and China

20 June 2024, China: The importance of partnerships has been promoted in a research workshop held to mark 20 years of collaboration between the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) and China as part of efforts towards greater global food security.

The opening of the Workshop was chaired by Nils Vagsted, the former Director General who led much of the 20-year journey of collaboration with China. His successor, Ivar H Kristensen, Director General of NIBIO, welcomed CABI and guests from Norway and China to the workshop in Moss, Norway.

These included H.E. Yue Hou, Chinese Ambassador to Norway, Thomas Hansteen, Research Council, Norway and Helle Biseth, Special Advisor, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

H.E. Signe Brudeset, Norwegian Ambassador to China, delivered a pre-recorded speech.

Also in attendance were representatives from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) which, as well as working with NIBIO, collaborates with CABI towards greater sustainable food security through the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA)-CABI Joint Laboratory for Biosafety (Joint Lab).

Colleagues from Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (IPP-CAAS), which hosts the Joint Lab, also took part in the workshop.

Represented by CABI were Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, CABI’s Memberships Director, and Mr Mathieu Peligry, CABI’s Strategic Partnerships Manager, Europe.

Workshop focussed on six sessions

The workshop focussed on six sessions which explored smart agriculture, soil health and biochar research, food safety and NIBIO-CAAS collaboration, EU-China/Norway-China collaboration highlights, One Health collaboration with China, and circular solutions such as waste-derived biochar and biogas for soil and beyond.

Dr Zhang, who took part in the opening remarks, congratulated NIBIO and China on the 20 years of fruitful collaboration, particularly through Sinograin I and Sinograin II programmes.

She said the workshop was an important event to promote close partnerships to help end hunger, achieve food security and better nutrition as well as greater sustainable agriculture around the world.

Dr Zhang also highlighted how CABI is working together with its 48 Member Countries, including China, to help alleviate these world issues by utilizing its scientific and knowledge management expertise, publishing products, tools, biological resources and services.

Improving food security and livelihoods

Particularly, Dr Zhang thanked CABI Member Countries and partners for helping to shape CABI’s Medium-Term Strategy 2023-2025 which sets out give major goals that includes improving the food security and livelihoods of smallholder communities.

She and Mr Peligry both shared with participants some key facts and examples of CABI’s long history (over 40 years) of successful partnerships with China, particularly through the Joint Lab. Such partnerships have helped mitigate threats to sustainable food systems in China and beyond.

Other examples of collaboration Dr Zhang highlighted included CABI and NIBIO working together on the five-year Malawi Digital Plant Health Service (MaDiPHS) project funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

The project is expected to deliver a digital service for efficient pest and disease management of maize, tomato, cassava, banana and groundnut in Malawi that will benefit over 100,000 farmers. The service is owned and managed by the Malawian government to achieve sustainability.

Importance of developing close partnerships

Dr Zhang also highlighted the PlantwisePlus programme which develops close partnerships with donors, national governments, institutions, extension services, farmer associations and the private sector in ensuring the sustainability and positive impact of the programme.

The PlantwisePlus programme aims to reach 75 million smallholder farmers in low and lower-middle income countries, providing them with access to the knowledge and skills they need to improve their production practices.

Meanwhile, Mr Peligry, spoke about how CABI also contributes in various ways to smart agricultural practices.

These include precision farming techniques. For instance, in response to the locust crisis threatening Eastern Africa’s food security, CABI piloted drone technology in partnership with Astral-Aerial, to spray pesticides precisely onto the pests.

Mr Peligry also highlighted CABI’s range of digital tools within the PlantwisePlus Toolkit. For example, the CABI BioProtection Portal which serves as a valuable resource, offering information on biocontrol and biopesticide products to support sustainable agriculture.

He also mentioned how Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is key to promoting holistic approaches that minimize reliance on chemical pesticides.

“CABI advocates for biological control, crop rotation, and resistant crop varieties, enhancing long-term pest management effectiveness,” he said.

Dr Zhang said, “As an intergovernmental organisation with the majority of our Member Countries from the Global South, and many of our 25 centres/offices based in the developing countries, CABI is well positioned to promote more triangular collaboration, and south-south co-operations.

“We are therefore particularly keen to continue to play a bridging role in our combined efforts to tackle the challenges mentioned earlier. This includes potential future collaboration with NIBIO as well as China which will help more developing countries in their endeavours of achieving food security.”

Also Read: Adoption of Agricultural Drones in India

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