The ACIAR program in China focuses on improving the sustainability of agricultural production, through policy and technical projects on better management of land and water resources in north-western China and crop–livestock systems in Tibet Autonomous Region. In addressing sustainable production, the need to raise farmers’ incomes through increased productivity and marketability of produce is also covered in project design. To reach those most affected by poverty and land degradation, the program will increasingly target rainfed crop–livestock systems, and ACIAR will consult with the Chinese partners to engage in joint regional- and national-level research initiatives. As China is a large and emerging economy with a substantial agricultural research network and capacity, opportunities for partnerships on a regional basis will be explored. These opportunities for mutual research collaboration will be more appropriate as China’s relationship progresses from an aid agenda. Australia and China interact with a range of international research and assistance agencies that provide suitable platforms for addressing wide regional research options.
In view of the significant human and financial resources now available within the Chinese national agricultural research system, and the strong mutual benefits to Australia, all ACIAR activities in China involve substantial co-investment from the Chinese partners.
ACIAR consultation with China to prioritise research collaboration includes meetings with senior leaders and researchers from the ministries of Science and Technology, and Agriculture and Water Resources, as well as the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, universities and provincial authorities. Consistent with the above strategy to assess regional priorities and opportunities, future exchanges will have both bilateral and multilateral objectives as focal points. The priorities for ACIAR’s China program in the medium term are:
- Selection of technologies for improved water-use efficiency, with an emphasis on dryland agriculture
- Development of policies and institutions for improved land and water use, and associated climate-change influences
- Wheat breeding for dryland conditions and conservation farming systems
- Integrated crop–livestock systems in favourable areas of Tibet Autonomous Region and rangelands of north-western China.