Celebrating and building our research links with China

Plant & Food Research welcomed Dr Zhigang Wang, China’s Minister of Science and Technology, to its Mount Albert Research Centre this week.

Dr Zhigang, in New Zealand as an official guest of the Government, was accompanied by senior officials in his Ministry, China’s Consul General to New Zealand, Shijie Chen, and senior representatives from the Sichuan Provincial Department of Science and Technology and other research organisations.

Minister Zhigang’s visit focused on the long relationship between Plant & Food Research and Chinese research partners, which has a particular focus on mutually-beneficial scientific research into understanding and controlling natural diseases in kiwifruit with the Sichuan Academy of Natural Resource Sciences (SPANRS).

Collaboration between the two institutes is underpinned by the China-New Zealand Joint Kiwifruit Laboratory, which was established in 2014, as well as a programme of scientific collaboration where researchers from both organisations have worked on kiwifruit canker diseases and white peach scales.

Plant & Food Research’s Group General Manager for Marketing and Innovation, Dr Gavin Ross, noted in his welcome to the delegation that this collaboration, as well as Plant & Food Research’s wider research relationships in China, such as the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and key Chinese agricultural universities stem from the ties Chinese horticultural scientist Dr Li Lairong made with New Zealand during World War Two in the 1940’s.

“While Dr Li Lairong’s visit to our shores was an accident of history, it began a connection between our countries on fruit science that continues to this day,” Dr Ross said.

“We have built on that chance wartime encounter and today routinely enjoy having visiting researchers and students from China working with us in our institutes, and of course, our own scientists working in China.”

Minister Zhigang also noted this historic beginning to the relationship and predicted further growth as both Plant & Food Research and SPANRS explore “the partnership between plants and humans”.

The Minister also spoke of the growing globalisation of science, the need to build future science talent pipelines of next generation researchers and to focus on delivering science that makes a meaningful impact on the lives of consumers, while also being academically excellent and valuable across supply chains.

After the formalities, Minister Zhigang and the delegation visited Plant & Food Research’s dedicated consumer and product insights research facilities to meet with researchers and sample a range of fruits and fruit-related products currently under development.

Source:  Plant & Food Research 

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog