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[BEIJING] The appointment of a leading Chinese scientist at the world's major agricultural research body is expected to better apply Chinese resources and expertise to the global fight against poverty.

Wang Ren was this week (22 August) announced as the first Chinese scientist to be appointed director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a major agricultural research consortium launched by the World Bank to help the poor countries.

"I think my work here is like a platform, or a catalyst, to promote the partnership between international agricultural development agencies and China's agricultural research and aid," said Wang.

An entomologist by training, Wang has been the deputy director general for research at the CGIAR-supported International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines since 2000. He has also served as vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) since 1995.

According to Wang, China has good expertise in practical farming, mountain development strategies and small agricultural mechanical technologies — valuable resources to help other developing countries.

China has gradually increased its international aid, especially to African countries, in recent years. However, says Wang, few Chinese aid programmes involve local organisations and experienced international aid agencies.

For example, Chinese experts sent to help Nigeria increase rice output were unaware of endemic plant diseases and local varieties, so the programme failed to produce any commercially sustainable practices.

Wang believes that he can help Chinese policymakers and scientists become more aware of organisations like CGIAR and promote public-private partnerships involving the Chinese government, Chinese institutions and companies, and international organisations.

Huang Dafang, a leading scientist at CAAS, says while China has had some agricultural expertise close to that in the developing world, the country is struggling to catch up with the West in many frontiers of agricultural science.

"I think Wang's position at CGIAR is a chance to help explore suitable Chinese technologies and expertise to help other developing countries," Huang told SciDev.Net.