ILRI and China’s Nanjing Agricultural University commit to deepen collaboration for livestock research and capacity development


Chancellor Chen Ligen of Nanjing Agricultural University with ILRI director general Jimmy Smith (photo credit: ILRI).

Over the past two months International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU) have had a number of engagements between senior managers and scientists that have enabled identification of priority collaboration areas for livestock research and capacity development. These culminated in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions on 30 October 2019.

On the far east of China, in Jiangsu Province is the former capital city known as Nanjing. Here, NAU is among a group of elite Chinese universities selected as a double first-class discipline institution. With over 20 colleges divided into five faculties, the university’s major research areas are spread across its four campuses, namely, Weigang campus, Pukou and Jiangbei (new campus) and Baima campus.

In September 2019 the vice president of this elite university, professor Hu Feng, with a delegation of university college deans visited ILRI to discuss potential areas for collaboration. After a fruitful discussion between members of their faculty and ILRI scientists, research synergies pertaining to livestock genetics, feeds and forages and in areas of animal health research related to African swine fever were identified with potential opportunities in peste des petits ruminants and antimicrobial resistance research. Across all these research areas, capacity development presents a key opportunity, not least through connections exemplified, for example, by the long-standing partnership between the Confucius Institute and Egerton University.

The meeting identified a potential novel and new ‘tripartite arrangement’ between NAU, African Universities like Egerton and possibly Hawassa University, located in Ethiopia and ILRI as a new way of working at the interface of capacity development and livestock research for development.

Following these exploratory discussions, the ILRI Board of Trustees and management were graciously hosted by Nanjing Agricultural University for the 52nd ILRI Board meeting, 25–30 October 2019. ILRI’s Board member, Professor Jing Zhu is dean of the College of Economics and Management and along with the office of International Relations, provided outstanding support for the Board and management meetings in Nanjing.

The meeting also afforded the opportunity for ILRI and NAU management, including livestock genetics team members Han Jianlin and Yue Yaojing to meet to advance the earlier discussions commenced to identify priorities for a joint science agenda expected to commence early in 2020.

The opportunities for NAU and ILRI collaboration were also highlighted during the 10th Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA) World Agricultural Prize  ceremony at which professor Lindsay Falvey, ILRI Board chair gave an address and the subsequent GCHERA conference where ILRI’s deputy director general, Iain Wright discussed how human resource development is key to moving from excellence in research to development impacts.