Healthy food and living environment. Although it is an essential part of our lives, only one university in the Netherlands is specifically focusing on this theme. The Dutch Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is one of the most renowned universities in the world in the field of food and living environment. So it is no wonder that their activities stretch far beyond the Dutch borders. WUR is very active in the Chinese market and they celebrate their 100 year anniversary this year. Because of their close ties to China several celebrations were hosted in Chinese cities last weekend.
There are many collaboration projects between China and the Netherlands in the field of agriculture and food. Many Dutch companies in the field of dairy or food production join forces with local partners to explore the Chinese market.
But also on a scientific level Dutch and Chinese institutions work together. Each year, WUR receives many Chinese exchange students. The university already has more than 800 alumni throughout China. Many of the alumni are active within the alumni network throughout China. “Celebrating Wageningen Universities’ 100 year anniversary here in China is very special to me. We are proud to be surrounded by all the Chinese alumni who carry Wageningen in their hearts and are our ambassadors here locally,” says Raoul Bino, Managing Director Wageningen Agrotechnology and Food Sciences Group.
However, the connection between WUR and China is much stronger than that. From scientific exchange to business advisory projects, there are many projects with Dutch roots. As such, WUR and its Chinese partners are transforming the complete agricultural cycle:
- Reinventing the Dairy Sector | In China, WUR is best-known for its efforts in the field of dairy. Together with the Chinese Agricultural University, WUR founded the Sino Dutch Dairy Development Center (SDDDC) in 2014. The center was founded to promote collaboration in the field of dairy, and works on making the dairy sector more efficient. Since it was founded in 2012, the SDDDC has funded over 32 joint-research projects with a total investment of more than 10 million RMB.
- Turning Waste into Value | Cows, pigs, goats and more. It is no secret that farming includes many animals since large-scale farming tends to be more efficient. However, when improving efficiency a second issue looms: How to cope with the waste produced? Together with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), WUR founded the Sino-Dutch Livestock Waste Recycling Center in 2016. Reducing waste and transforming it into for instance valuable bio-fuels is essential to make the Chinese agricultural industry more sustainable.
- Improving Food Security | Another sector that is also of much interest to cooperate in, is horticulture. It is an important challenge within the Chinese market to realize food security and safety. In the Netherlands, greenhouses are a central pillar in achieving high agricultural productivity and thus more food security. Therefore, WUR and CAAS jointly founded the Sino-Dutch Joint Research Center for Greenhouse Horticulture. This research center further supports a transition to high agricultural productivity by combining knowledge, means and technology. But also many projects in the field of food safety are carried out by the WUR in China. For instance in the field of safe use of pesticides or quality assurance. Guaranteeing the quality of fruit and vegetable is essential to ensure the agricultural market is ready for the future.
Bringing Science and Business Together
Besides projects in the scientific field there is also cooperation with private Chinese companies. Several plans for eco-initiatives such as the COFCO Eco Valley in Beijing and the Distinctive Flower Town in Zejiang were developed by WUR. As such, the Wageningen Universities footprint is widely present within the Chinese agricultural sector.
“We are grateful for the support of the Dutch diplomatic network in China. We can only achieve such projects together with the Dutch Government, our Chinese partners and the Chinese Government. Joining forces and sharing knowledge and experience is key,” says Raoul Bino. Yan Jie, Manager of the WUR China Office, agrees: “And we’d like to thank all alumni who made these 100 year celebrations possible. They make our network possible and allow us to build partnerships and relationships for the future.”
China and the Netherlands: partners for agriculture
The Netherlands is ranked number 2 on the world rank of largest exporters of agricultural products. Exports cover many agricultural products: from flowers and vegetables to dairy products. The match with China, being the largest export market, is easily made. The cooperation in the field of agriculture, however, is much more than just export. It’s a partnership. Joint efforts such as the SDDDC enable both countries to share knowledge and offer room for close cooperation.
Text: Laura Nijenhuis; Yan Jie