International partnership to explore agricultural challenges

December 18, 2013

Scientists from Murdoch University have joined forces with leading Chinese researchers in a bid to solve some of the world’s most significant agricultural challenges.

Northwest A&F University President Professor Sun Qixin with Murdoch University Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Higgott.

Representatives from China’s Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University travelled to Perth last week
to formally establish the Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Abiotic and Biotic Stress Management in Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry.

The agreement was signed by the President of Northwest A&F University, Professor Sun Qixin, and Murdoch University Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Higgott.

“Australian and Chinese farmers both produce food in drier regions, so they face many of the same problems,” said Centre Director Professor Shashi Sharma of Murdoch University.

“It makes sense that we should share our expertise and work together to try to overcome these challenges for the benefit of both countries.”

Abiotic stressors include ‘non-living’ factors such as climate change, temperature, natural disasters, salinity, soil quality and water. Biotic stressors include bacteria, parasites, diseases, insects and weeds.

Professor Sharma said these issues are costly for both farmers and the environment, reducing the efficiency and sustainability of the agriculture, horticulture and forestry industries.

“One third of the food produced worldwide each year is either lost or wasted,” he said.

“Our land and water resources are finite. We need to maximise our yield while taking steps to ensure that future generations will have enough arable land and water resources to grow the food they need.”

Now that a formal agreement has been signed, the Centre will develop collaborative projects, seek research funding and establish exchange programs for senior researchers, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students.

“Providing enough food for seven billion people is already proving to be a massive challenge, and demand is increasing as the world population continues to grow,” Professor Sharma said.

“Food security and biosecurity is a global problem, so we need to engage in joint research to enhance the efficiency of food value chain if we want to safeguard industry and end world hunger.”

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