EMR signs research agreement with China

East Malling Research (EMR) has taken a major step towards scientific collaboration with China after it signed a high-level memorandum of understanding with its opposite numbers in Beijing, China.

Horticultural scientists from EMR were invited to attend the UK-China Agri-tech Innovation Forum, a two-day trade mission organised by Innovation China UK, which is led by Queen Mary, University of London.

As a result of EMR's presentation in Beijing, which focused on its scientific expertise in strawberry breeding, crop protection, physiology and water-use efficiency in crops, the team signed an agreement with the Beijing Plant Protection Station, which is part of the Beijing Academy of Agricultural Science.

The EMR team, consisting of Dr Neil Hipps and pathologist and epidemiologist Professor Xiangming Xu, was joined by Meiosis managing director Mark Coxeter, whose East Malling-based company works closely with fruit breeding programmes to introduce new cultivars to the fruit industry throughout the world.

The agreement will see the two organisations explore the commercialisation of technology in the management and monitoring of strawberry and cherry disease, as well as water-saving technologies that can be applied to commercial production in China.

EMR's Dr Neil Hipps said: "This agreement opens up major opportunities for collaborative research with the Chinese and will strengthen EMR's global reputation and the reach of our technologies.

"As a research organisation, we have actively sought to build commercial relations at home and abroad to help fund our work and this memorandum with the Chinese is a major success.

"The Chinese government has recognised that its food security is fundamental to the long-term success of the country's economic and social well-being.

"While our research will build on our existing expertise in strawberries, we are already transferring it to other crops such as potatoes and it offers huge potential for water and crop protection.

"Our work in the area of strawberries, in terms of breeding new varieties and improving yields and quality, is of huge interest to the Chinese because strawberries are a high-value crop and growing in commercial importance due to the emerging middle class in China and their greater disposable income."

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