The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) is a national, integrative agricultural scientific research organization with responsibility for carrying out both basic and applied research, as well as research into new technologies impacting agriculture. CAAS is dedicated to overcoming a broad range of challenges impacting agricultural development and support of the local rural economy. Importantly, CAAS promotes sustainable agriculture within and outside China, extending its reach through technology exchange and cooperative research agreements with agricultural research institutions/universities domestically and internationally. and global non-governmental organizations.
CAAS, established in 1957 and headquartered in Beijing, oversees 42 institutes, of which 32 are direct affiliates. The remaining 8 institutes are co-hosted together with local governments or universities. CAAS also incorporates a graduate school and a publishing house. Research and policy work at the academy cover a broad range of topics that have been categorized as eight disciplinary clusters, 134 focused fields, and 309 research focuses. The eight disciplinary clusters include crop science, horticulture science, animal science, veterinary medicine, agricultural resources and environment, agricultural mechanization and engineering, agro-product quality, safety and processing, and agricultural information and economics.
CAAS aligns its research priorities with the so-called Three Rural Issues in China: agriculture, rural community, and farmers. The academy has generated thousands of scientific and technological advances, with almost 3,000 of these winning national or provincial awards. Additionally, more than 1,000 new varieties of crops, livestock, and poultry have been developed. Advances with broad economic impact include the creation of super rice and dwarf sterile wheat, advances in the prevention and control of wheat stripe rust, development of transgenic insect-resistant cotton, production of vaccines against avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease, and the generation of double-low (low erucic acid, low sulfuric glucoside) rapeseed, high-oil soybeans, and transgenic phytase corn.
The success of CAAS can be attributed to an ideal combination of science, technology, and economic incentive. The active transfer of technology for the betterment of all is a primary driver. Thousands of researchers at the front line of agricultural production aid in transforming the latest technological achievements into applications for farmers through technical training and onsite demonstrations. CAAS cooperates closely with local governments to promote local economic development through technology transfer and has been instrumental in establishing over 100 companies, particularly in the fields of crop seed and seedling, agricultural chemistry, veterinary products and drugs, animal feed, and special agricultural products.
CAAS is the largest employer of scientific talent in agricultural science and technology in China, with over 5,000 professional employees. Twenty-seven members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering are past employees of CAAS, and 11 of them are still actively involved in research. The Graduate School of CAAS (GSCAAS) cultivates exceptional research talent in the agricultural sciences, many of whom feed directly into the academy. The school currently enrolls more than 4,300 students in its 65 Master's, 53 Ph.D., and nine postdoctoral research programs.
International cooperation is an essential part of the mission of CAAS. It has set up successful cooperative agreements or memoranda of understanding with numerous international institutions, organizations, and companies as well as non-governmental organizations, civil societies, and international foundations. Presently, there are 27 joint laboratories and research centers set up in cooperation with various countries and international organizations and 13 international organizations and foreign agricultural institutions have established liaison offices within the academy.
The research infrastructure at CAAS is cutting edge, and includes two national key scientific facilities (the National Key Facility for Crop Gene Resources and Genetic Improvement, and the National Center of Agricultural Biosafety), as well as key laboratories, centers, and experimental field stations. CAAS also has one long-term and 10 mid-term national gene banks for the storage of crop germplasm resources, together with 12 national crop germplasm nurseries. Overall, more than 420,000 accessions are conserved.
The Agricultural Library at CAAS headquarters archives numerous domestic and international journals and books, while CAAS itself publishes 68 scientific and technological journals in numerous agriculture-related fields.
The overarching goal of the academy is to be, in the words of CAAS President Li Jiayang, “a world-class agricultural research institution.” To achieve this, CAAS is building up its technological and knowledge capacity, empowering it to be a primary source of expertise and innovation in agricultural science and technology in China. To address the Three Rural Issues, CAAS aims to cultivate exceptional talent and be a base for agricultural innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program (ASTIP), launched in January 2013, will significantly improve CAAS’s innovative capacity by enabling further acquisition of top scientists, improving research infrastructure, and overcoming technical bottlenecks that have limited agricultural development in China. CAAS will continue to lead and promote modern agricultural development in China, with an eye to becoming one of the top agricultural scientific and technological institutions in the world by 2025.
As CAAS plays a greater role in the global scientific family, it is seeking to establish further international collaboration and large-scale cooperation in agricultural research in an effort to accelerate the pace of innovation and make significant contributions to eliminating poverty and hunger in the world.