Safeguarding food security with technology

China CAASChina is aiming to ramp up its innovation capacity in agricultural science and technology to further safeguard the food security of the country, according to a five-year development guideline of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS)

The CAAS intends to achieve breakthroughs that can help improve grain yield, self-sufficiency of oil-bearing crops such as soybeans, and the utilisation rate of irrigation water, chemical fertilisers, and pesticides. It also said that the country also needs self-developed technologies to reduce dependence on the import of some crops, livestock, and poultry varieties.

The guideline focuses on major fields such as seeds, cultivated land, agricultural machinery, and bio-safety. It also calls for boosting the construction of new key laboratories, a grain crop science centre, a molecular design breeding centre, a national crop germplasm resource bank, a livestock and poultry bank, and an agricultural microorganism bank.

Wu Kongming, president of the CAAS, noted that China stands on its own feet in the field of agricultural science and technology, but lags behind some leading developed countries.

“China still lacks significant achievements in areas of modern biotechnology such as genome-wide selection, gene editing and synthetic biology, as well as in emerging information-technology fields such as the Internet of Things, big data, blockchain and artificial intelligence and their application in agriculture,” Wu said.

In addition, the country's grain-crop yield is at a relatively low level, so it is urgent to advance technical research on increasing yields, he added.

Wu also made statements calling for efforts to build a national agricultural science and technology innovation centre, strengthen original and independent innovation, explore new frontier fields and achieve world-class scientific discoveries and major breakthroughs in key technologies.

The CAAS will focus on seeds, cultivated land, agricultural machinery and equipment, and agricultural biosafety and promote the trial of transgenic industrialisation, to support high-quality development with science and technology, he noted.

Wu also stressed strengthening international cooperation, including the ‘Belt and Road’ cooperation, in agricultural science and technology along with the CAAS’ intentions to accelerate international cooperation in the areas of disease prevention and control in both animals and plants, as well as for biotechnology.

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