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1.The China-UK Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) has been established to provide a coherent framework for the development and implementation of China-UK collaboration on sustainable agriculture. It will support the UK-China cooperation in sustainable agriculture & food security and provide a flexible and enduring platform for long-term China-UK collaboration in this area. Development of SAIN is included in the SDD Work Programme on Sustainable Agriculture and Fisheries (dated May 2008), which sets out priority areas of collaboration between the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

2.The proposal for a more comprehensive platform for China-UK collaboration was originally made in November 2005 at the UK-China Partners in Science conference at Yangling, North West China, and was further discussed by partners involved in the SDD project on “Improving livelihoods for Shaanxi farmers by reducing non-point source pollution through improved nutrient management” at a workshop in September 2007.It was also discussed by DEFRA, DFID, MOA and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), and China’s North West Agriculture and Forestry University (NWAFU) at a dinner in Beijing in November 2007. A Business Plan was produced through a DEFRA/DFID consultancy after wide consultations with Chinese and UK stakeholders, bilateral agencies and international organisations. The draft Business Plan was discussed with Chinese and UK primary stakeholders on 14th December 2007; and a revised Business Plan was accepted by MOA, MOST, DFID and DEFRA in April 2008.

3.The main objectives of SAIN are to:

  • Support the UK-China cooperation in sustainable agriculture and food security by fostering innovation in three areas: effective policy development; institutional mechanisms for collaborative research; and translating policy and science into practice on the ground
  • Stimulate innovative thinking and research on all aspects of environmentally sustainable agriculture and its relation to the local, national and global economy
  • Communicate information on environmentally sustainable agriculture issues and opportunities for change, and disseminate best practices to key audiences (farmers, policy makers, businesses)
  • Contribute to global sustainability through wider sharing of expertise between developed and emerging economies.

4.SAIN’s work is overseen by a Governing Board (GB), which gives strategic guidance to and approves the activities of a number of Working Groups (WGs) and two Secretariat Offices (one each in China and UK). The Secretariat Offices will provide the necessary administrative support for the activities of SAIN. The primary Secretariat Office for SAIN will be in China within the North West Agriculture and Forestry University (NWAFU).A smaller, secondary Secretariat Office will be based in the Overseas Development Group (ODG) at the University of East Anglia in the UK.Defra and MOA will provide financial support for the running of the two Secretariat Offices.The NWAFU has kindly agreed to provide office space, equipment and facilities, and personnel, free of charge for the China Secretariat Office as its contribution to SAIN. ODG will provide working facilities (including desk space and IT facilities) for Governing Board (GB) and Working Group (WG) members and other SAIN partners as necessary; access to
library facilities; meeting space and video-conference facilities for SAIN; and will host and maintain SAIN’s website, with IT support.

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