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U.S.-China Agriculture Dialogue Aims ‘Be Happy with Others, Rather Than Trying To Be Happy Alone’

April 2 , 2021 (EIRNS)—On April 1, the third of four U.S.-China Agriculture Dialogues took place, lasting almost three hours, titled, “Agriculture Education Dialogue: Together, How Can the U.S. and China Transform Agriculture?” The dialogue brought together the deans and presidents of Peking University, Nanjing Agricultural University, China Agricultural University, Zhejiang University, with University of California at Davis, Ohio State University, Tuskegee University, Oklahoma State University, and Iowa State University. The overall sponsor was the Missouri-based U.S. Heartland China Association. The topic was the state and future of agricultural education—extension services for farmers in China and the U.S., and educating students for careers in agriculture.

Among the outstanding presentations, Prof. Sun Qixin of China Agricultural University, discussed 40-year history of Chinese and American colleges exchanging students and training students together, which he characterized as of “strategic importance.” Quoting China’s President Xi Jinping, he explained the identity of food security and poverty alleviation for China and for the whole world. He said that China’s development policy aimed to make sure that “we have a good environment for the Chinese people—China will never be a threat to other countries.” Quoting Mencius, he said, “It is better to be happy together with others, rather than trying to be happy alone.” He said that Yuan Longping, the “father of hybrid rice,” is a friend of his, and that he had met with American agronomist, creator of the agriculture’s “Green Revolution” Dr. Norman Borlaug in 1992 and in 2002.

Prof. Huang Jikun of Peking University stressed the many hundreds of agricultural science scholarly papers jointly written by Chinese and American researchers—written in both English and Chinese—whose authors were pursuing food science with a single universal purpose.

Prof. Kevin Chen, of the China Academy of Rural Development at Zhejiang University described how the Chinese government has 1 million farm extension workers, serving 200 million farm families with small farms, many with aging owners. He reported that only 40% of the farms have access to the internet—a problem to be solved. They have formed the “National Cloud Platform for Grassroots Ag Tech Extension in China.”

Among the Americans, Dr. Walter A. Hill, the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Environment, and Nutrition Sciences of Tuskegee University, made the greatest contribution. He framed his talk on the notion from W.E.B. Du Bois of “double consciousness”—seeing oneself and the world with “two sets of eyes,” one’s own and those of the oppressor. He said, “We need the brilliant young minds discussing China trade.” He reported that 90% of American farms are small farms, and most are losing money. Speaking of the high quality of American Land Grant colleges (compared to the Ivy League), he asserted, “Big is not better. It’s the smaller that can produce the geniuses.” He called on Chinese universities to collaborate with Black colleges: “Let’s get Chinese to come here (to Tuskegee), and to work with us in a new way—I challenge you!”

Stressing the rich common history of U.S.-China collaboration in education, Prof. Zhu Jing, dean at the Nanjing Agricultural University, reminded the audience that NAU was founded in 1921 by American agriculture economist and agricultural missionary for the American Presbyterian Mission, John Lossing Buck.

The American speakers uniformly stressed sustainable agriculture and CO2 emission reduction (“climate-smart agriculture”). The world food crisis in the former colonial sector and the famine was not discussed, and only Professor Sun discussed the China miracle of eliminating all extreme poverty in China. What was documented was a very deep 100-year history—continuing into the present—of the U.S. and China’s combined passion for and science of food production improvement and expansion. The Dialogue was introduced by Chris Chinn, the Missouri Director of Agriculture, and by Tom Peterson, the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

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