New crop research collaborations established with China

October 6, 2014

Murdoch University's Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Development, Professor David Morrison (seated, right), signs the MOU with Professor Zheng Du, President of the Academy of the State Adminstration of Grains.

Murdoch University’s international standing as a leading crop research institution has been further enhanced with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Academy of the State Administration of Grains in China.

Overseen by The Hon Barnaby Joyce, Australian Minister for Agriculture and His Excellency Dr Ren Zhengxiao, Administrator of the State Administration of Grains, the signing of the agreement will bring together experts across several disciplines to undertake wide ranging research and advance knowledge in topics such as grain storage, stored product insect pests and grain quality.

“These collaborations are highly significant for Murdoch University and its world class grains and food security research scientists,” said Pearl Chua, Principal Advisor (International Relations – North and Southeast Asia) at Murdoch University.

“China is the major world player in grain. It must feed 20 per cent of the world’s population with less than 10 per cent of the world’s arable land. It is at the forefront of scientific research in this area so the MoU speaks volumes about the esteem they have for our researchers.

“As well as a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, the MoU will lead to the establishment of the bilateral Centre for Post-Harvest Biosecurity and Food Safety, the development of a scholar exchange program, jointly organised seminars and symposia and joint research projects including collaborative bidding for national and international research funding.”

Leader of Post-Harvest Biosecurity and Food Safety Laboratory and Plant Biosecurity CRC Professor Yonglin Ren, along with Research Director Professor Bernard Dell were among the delegation from Murdoch University to travel to Beijing, China for the signing of the MoU in September.

The delegation also visited the North West Agriculture and Forestry University (NWAFU) in Yangling District, China for the launch of a new research centre between the two institutions which will investigate the various stress factors that severely affect agriculture and forests worldwide.

The Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Abiotic and Biotic Stress Management in Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry will bring together experts across several disciplines to undertake research with the ultimate aim of reducing crop susceptibility to water stress and pests and increasing productivity.

Abiotic stress factors including heat, cold, drought, salinity and nutrient stress have a huge impact on world agriculture and forests while biotic stress factors like fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes and insects cause widespread crop and forest production losses in different parts of the world.

“Some reports indicate biotic and abiotic stress factors and their interactions reduce yields by 50 per cent for major crop plants in different regions of the world,” said Professor Shashi Sharma, Chair in Biosecurity and Food Security at Murdoch University and co-director of the centre.

“Various analyses suggest that both abiotic and biotic stresses will increase with climate change in dryland agriculture and this will be translated into even lower yields and crop failure.

“New approaches and systems are needed to manage these challenges which is what we hope to achieve with this collaborative research centre.”

Professor Sharma said the centre would facilitate the preparation of joint projects, encourage the exchange of personnel between the universities and support activities such as the establishment of joint laboratories.

Some of the senior Murdoch researchers now associated with the centre include Professor Giles Hardy, Professor Dell, Professor Richard Harper, Professor Wujun Ma and Professor Mike Jones.

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