Chinese grasslands delegation to visit CSU
5 OCTOBER 2012
Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Orange and the NSW Department of Primary Industries will host a visit by Chinese officials as part of an ongoing project to restore China’s crippled grasslands to sustainable grazing condition.
Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Orange and the NSW Department of Primary Industries will host a visit by Chinese officials as part of an ongoing project to restore China's crippled grasslands to sustainable grazing condition.
The Chinese delegation, which will include representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China Agricultural University, Lanzhou University, Gansu Agricultural University, and from Tibet, will visit Canberra and CSU in Wagga Wagga and Orange on a six-day tour.
The delegation will meet staff at CSU's School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences to discuss Australian grazing strategies and visit some large grazing studies run near Orange by the Department of Primary Industries.
CSU Professor David Kemp said the University, with funding by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, had been working on a project to improve herder incomes while rejuvenating the 400 million hectares of grassland in northern and western China.
“Since 1950 there has been a three or four-fold increase in stocking rates in those areas and the impact on the grasslands has been severe,” he said.
“Our program is designed to show the herders how reducing their stock numbers can increase their net incomes by delivering better results for the remaining animals.”
The poor state of the grasslands is a critical issue in China, with millions of people in western China still living below the poverty line of less than US$2 a day and seasonal dust storms that drop eroded soil on Beijing in layers up to 2centimetres thick.
“The Chinese government is spending about $2 billion a year trying to restore the grasslands and improve herder livelihoods,” Professor Kemp said.
“It’s a real challenge in a place where conditions are so harsh that plants can only grow three or four months of the year, if rain falls. In the north of China the temperature can drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius and a normal year there is worse than a drought year here.”
Despite the challenges, the CSU project is getting results and Professor Kemp said hosting the delegation would further strengthen ties between Australia and China and provide scope to help farmers throughout Eurasia.
“The area we are working in is part of the Eurasian steppes and the problems there are common throughout central Asia,” he said.
“If we can work out strategies to help farmers in China we should ultimately be able to help people right across the region.”
Future work in that region is likely to be collaborative between Australia and China.
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