A biosecurity research partnership between Australia and China will be launched at Murdoch University this week.
Through the Australia-China Joint Centre for Postharvest Grain Biosecurity and Quality Research program, the partnership will focus on finding new and improved ways to minimise losses in stored grain through the development of non-chemical controls.
China is Australia’s largest grains export market, worth A$2.8b in 2015. Postharvest losses are costly for both countries.
The partnership between Murdoch University, Australia’s Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and China’s Academy of State Administration of Grain, the Chinese government’s agricultural research arm, will develop new technologies that reduce postharvest losses.
Administrator of China’s State Administration of Grain, His Excellency Dr Ren Zhengxiao, will arrive at Murdoch’s Perth campus, in Western Australia (WA), on Friday for the official Australian launch of the centre.
“With our research partners in China we will be developing non-chemical controls to manage stored grain pests, such as modified nitrogen technology and innovative ‘lure and kill’ pest control,”: Professor YongLin Ren, a world leader in post-harvest grains research based at Murdoch’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, said:.
“The new research centre will establish treatment methods accepted by China and other countries to ensure food safety and security, maintaining quality, ensuring market access and protecting trade.”
“Australia and China share many similar challenges for their respective industries,” Dr Michael Robinson, CEO of the Plant Biosecurity CRC, said.
“All four main insect pests affecting stored grain have developed resistance to the main fumigant phosphine.
“With resistance an ongoing battle for grain growers and exporters around the world, continued research efforts are critical.
“There is also increasing pressure from regulators and consumers for non-chemical options for protecting grain.”
An important part of China’s strategy to boost food security is to reduce grain losses, currently estimated to be 35 million tonnes per year, by investing in research to improve grain storage methods.
The partnership will work closely with grain suppliers and companies to commercialise the research and deliver it to industry with maximum impact.
On Saturday, the Chinese delegation will take a guided tour of CBH Group’s operations at Kwinana, in WA, seeing first-hand the work by Murdoch University, the CRC and a China-based partner to develop new generation nitrogen technology for insect control in grain storages.
Western Australia is Australia’s biggest grain-exporting state, and the Port of Kwinana ships more grain than any other Australian port.