On 11 January 2011, CIMMYT welcomed a delegation of representatives from the Chinese embassy to Mexico. The Ambassador’s wife, Linge Liu, was accompanied by Wenling Ding, First Secretary of Education, and Yue Lan, Third Secretary of Science and Technology.
The delegation toured CIMMYT’s facilities including the Wheat Quality Laboratory, Applied Biotechnology Center, and the Wellhausen- Anderson Plant Genetic Resources Center. They met with Director General Thomas Lumpkin, who stressed CIMMYT’s vision and objective to develop stronger relations and promote South- South cooperation between India, China, and Mexico. “China and CIMMYT have a long history of bilateral relations. Today, China is becoming the strongest country in the world. China and CIMMYT must work very closely together as the future develops,” stated Lumpkin.
CIMMYT currently has five senior scientists based in China: Zhonghu He, Jiankang Wang, and Yunbi Xu are posted at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) in Beijing, Daniel Jeffers is based at the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Science, and Garry Rosewarne at the Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Science.
For the first time this year, China became a net importer of maize, and it recently overtook rice as the country’s primary crop. Maize is currently produced on 30.2 million hectares in China compared to 29.5 for rice and 23.9 for wheat, and Lumpkin expressed concern over the current maize market and importexport trends. By 2015, China is expected to import 15 million metric tons of maize from the US alone. Both Mexico and China are current importers of maize, and may compete for maize in the future.
Zhonghu He, Country Liaison officer for China, also joined the meetings and highlighted CIMMYT’s strong training component to develop the next generation of Chinese agricultural science researchers. CIMMYT currently has a total of 16 Chinese Postdoc students pursuing specialized research in maize and wheat genetics, diseases, and breeding, and in addition to recruiting these specialized scientists, over half of China’s maize seed bank genetic resources are sourced from CIMMYT.