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Wheat research organization opens Chinese center

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The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, is opening a new research center in China.

The center is hosted by Henan Agricultural University recently and funded by the province of Henan.

China’s priorities include better yields, efficiency of water and fertilizer use and reducing the effects of such diseases as wheat head scab and maize ear rot, said Zhonghu He, the CIMMYT representative in China.

Progress in developing resistance to scab could have implications for U.S. farmers, He said.

Head scab is an important wheat disease in the U.S., and germplasm from China has played a key role in developing resistant varieties, He said.

The plains of Henan Province in eastern China grow roughly 33 million tons of wheat a year, about 25 percent of China’s production.

Henan also produces roughly 17 million tons of maize, about 8 percent of China’s total production.

A twice-yearly rotation of wheat and maize is the dominant cropping system, He said.

“China wants to increase its scientific capacity under the pressure of climate change and increase of inputs and more diseases,” He said. “We believe technology innovation will strengthen China’s agriculture development in the future.”

Working with international centers such as CIMMYT will help the country produce more yield with fewer inputs, He said. The new center will work with CIMMYT centers around the world, including those in Mexico, Africa and Asia.

“The new technology and germplasm developed from this center will be freely available to CIMMYT and its partners in less-developed countries,” he said.

CIMMYT will recruit four senior-level scientists and eight junior scientists for the China center.

CIMMYT and China have collaborated for more than 30 years.

The Chinese center will be fully operational this year, He said.

Headquartered near Mexico City, CIMMYT works with partners throughout the developing world to increase the productivity of maize and wheat farms.

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