Reflections on the changing agricultural landscape in China

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Reflections on the changing agricultural landscape in China

Gepubliceerd op
27 januari 2016

On Thursday 21 January a well visited seminar marked the retirement of Dr. Dinghuan Hu, Chief Representative of the Wageningen UR China Office. The seminar was titled Rapid changes of Chinese Agriculture Scenery and the Impacts for Dutch Agribusiness. Four speakers shared their experiences on the changing Chinese market.

Wageningen UR has been operating in China for more than 20 years. It goes without saying that China has changed rapidly since the 1980’s but not everybody realises that a revolutionary change is happening in the Chinese agricultural sector right now offering golden opportunities for the Dutch agribusiness sectors and Wageningen UR.

Dr. Dinghuan Hu - well-known expert on agricultural issues in China, principle author of the book "Milk Stories from Grass to Glass: A Chinese Perspective", and Chief Representative of Wageningen UR China Office - shared his insights and interpreted the recently released important document by the CPC Central Committee entitled 'Comprehensive implementation plan for deepening rural reform'. According to him the Chinese government plays an important and active role in propelling economic development, particularly in agriculture. Positively, this can promote economic development effectively. China is in need of technologies and brains from e.g. Wageningen UR. There is a disconnection between agricultural research and application. According to Dr. Dinghuan Hu China will see no future without innovation.

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Xinmin Zhang, First Secretary Science & Technology, Embassy of P.R. China in the Netherlands spoke about ‘Policy views on the changing Chinese Agriculture Scenery’. He stated that innovation is at the core of overall national development. Modernization and technology of Agriculture in China is necessary in order to feed its large 1.3 billion population. He stated that cooperation is a must for China’s Agriculture. The challenges are a huge demand for food and agriculture, resources and energy scarcity, pollution of air, water, soil, etc.
Xinmin Zhang indicated that the opportunity of mutual exchange and cooperation between Netherlands and China will be larger and greater than ever before. There is a promising prospect and huge potential. The Netherlands is very successful in innovation and Agriculture, China is on the way of catching up.

Atze Schaap, Friesland Campina, talked about ‘Changing Chinese dairy landscape and the potential of Sino Dutch collaboration’. China has a growing market for dairy. He predicts that China will become by far the largest dairy market in the world. However there is a lack of consumer trust in local dairy due to the many food safety issues. The total production is insufficient to meet local demand. Chinese milk production is fragmented across small farms: 77% of farms have less than 20 cows. Still more than 1,5 million farms have less than 10 cows. Co-operative farms are developing. He sees a shift to large scale farming, but still limited growth in milk production. There is a good potential and basis for growth and improvement in Chinese dairy farming. Since 2013 there is the Sino-Dutch Dairy Development Centre (SDDDC). SDDDC aspires to bring Grass-to-Glass quality and safety expertise from the Netherlands to China.

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Toon van Hooijdonk, Wageningen University, spoke about ‘Scientific challenges in the Chinese dairy chain’. He noticed that the Chinese dairy sector is fragmented and diversified in all parts of the chain. Development priorities in the Chinese dairy chain are amongst others: Creating infra-structure, scale and balance is key, more focus on quality than on quantity and rebuilding consumer trust. The scientific development priorities are amongst others: develop and improve local cow feed, feeding efficiency, farm size development in different regions and development of a milk quality and safety control system.