On 29 April, the Exchange Forum on Sino-German collaborations in agricultural sciences started with a first workshop at the CAAS Agriculture Information Institute (AII). On request of the AII a number of German researchers from renowned institutions actively participated online and presented their cooperation interests with the AII. Promoting new research collaborations in agricultural sciences between China and Germany is one of the main tasks of the S&T Platform. This series of workshops with German and Chinese researchers at different Chinese institutions will continue throughout this year.
The Exchange Forum is the result of joint efforts of the CAAS Department for International Cooperation, Division for Bilateral Cooperation and the DCZ. Despite a tight preparation schedule, the DCZ could arrange the participation from six German and international institutions, namely University of Hohenheim, Thünen-Institute, Humboldt University Berlin, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FIBL) and Leibniz-Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB).
The AII has been established in 1957 and receives 40 million CNY of annual funding for research in the fields of agricultural information technologies, analysis and management. Furthermore, the AII runs the National Agricultural Library and the Center for International Agricultural Research (CIAR) and compiles the annual “China Agricultural Outlook Report”. The DCZ and the S&T Platform in particular were presented by DCZ Senior Advisor Dr. Eva Sternfeld. Dr. Chen Tianjin from the International Department of CAAS provided an overview of funding schemes for bilateral researchers, such as joint funding opportunities by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Sino-EU Inter-governmental Joint Funding Scheme under the Horizon2020 and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, as well as unilateral direct funding from China (CAAS) and Germany.
The German participants shortly introduced their institutions and interest for future Sino-German research collaboration, often followed by a short presentation on corresponding AII research by a Chinese researcher. In the following the topics and research interests are summarised. For more information or contacts of the researchers involved, please feel free to enquire with the DCZ: firstname.lastname@example.org
Topics for potential collaboration
1) Knowledge and communication for sustainability related transitions in agricultural food systems
From the German side, Prof. Andrea Knierim from the University of Hohenheim presented her research on the Agricultural Knowledge & Information System (AKIS). In response, Prof. Jia Xiangping presented findings of a similar project on knowledge and information transmission to farmers via short messages in China.
2) Food Loss and Waste Practice
Dr. Stefan Lange, research coordinator, and Dr. Felicitas Schneider, research fellow at the Thünen Institute for Market Analysis introduced the Thünen-Institute and its role as a representative of Germany in European scientific commissions and bodies, such as the MACS-G20 (Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists at G20), where Dr. Lange and Dr. Schneider are the coordinators of the Collaboration Initiative Food Loss and Waste. Lange and Schneider identified several topics for promising cooperation with Chinese research institutions.
Dr. Huang Jiaqi, research assistant from the International Information Division of AII, presented that in China most food loss takes place during processing and harvesting. Among the identified research gaps she pointed out that food waste among vegetables and fruits is still lacking research as well as food loss at the processing stage whereas policies and research so far mainly focus on food waste of grains and staple food. The shift of responsibility to food providers and supermarkets was mentioned as a good example to learn from Germany, whereas China can provide valuable knowledge on how e-commerce platforms can help avoiding food loss on the producer side.
3) Agricultural risk management evaluation
Prof. Matthias Ritter from Humboldt University in Berlin presented his research on insurances against rainfall and farmers’ willingness to pay for weather risk insurance. Currently, his research team is exploring the weather-yield nexus with artificial neural networks, based on large database of daily soil and weather and corresponding yield data as well as spatial and temporal estimation of tail probabilities in weather extremes by means of extreme value theory, which is actually following a similar study conducted in China.
Dr. Wang Ke from the Research Center for Agricultural Risk Management (RCARM) of CAAS gave a short overview of the achievements of publishing a first country-level risk map for yield risks in 11 major crops in China based on data collected since 1980.
4) Research on organic agriculture
The work of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FIBL) was presented by Dr. Christian Grovermann, emphasising that organic agriculture reaches across the fields of agroecology, ecological intensification and sustainable intensification. He introduced recent research on how organic/agroecological agriculture can feed the world and what comprises a sustainable food system, not only with regard to consumption, but also production.
5) Detection of crop diseases and insect pests by using UVA
Dr. Karl-Heinz Dammer from Leibniz-Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB) introduced the latest research project on the detection of crop diseases and insect pests by using UAVs (drones) in collaboration with the Ecological Agricultural Information Service Laboratory, AII, in the meeting represented by Dr. Guo Leifeng and Dr. Qin Zhenwang.
This successful first Exchange Forum event will be followed by several more events in the upcoming months, inter alia, with visits to research institutions in Hangzhou and Shenzhen.