China Laboratory Capacity Building
In 2000, the China Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the New Zealand Government Official Development Assistance programme launched a bilateral project for the capacity building of food testing laboratories in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The project covered management, operational and technical aspects, to address PRC’s growing needs for safe, quality food for its citizens and export markets. Prime delivered this project over a two-year period, in association with AgriQuality New Zealand Ltd (AgriQuality), a state-owned New Zealand company that specialises in quality assurance systems and laboratory testing for the food and agriculture industries.
An initial scoping mission to PRC involved strategic discussions with senior management at MoA in Beijing and the review of a plant testing laboratory in Jinan, a seafood testing laboratory in Qingdao and a meat testing laboratory in Beijing.
The project concept was to choose one of these three laboratories as a model site for a capacity building approach that could be rolled out by MoA to other laboratories.
Based on the findings and further discussions with MoA, the Beijing meat testing laboratory was chosen as the model site, and a more detailed needs analysis was conducted there. This was followed by the development of a detailed project plan, involving:
- Development of a model business plan;
- Training of laboratory personnel on test method development, new test methods and quality assurance methodologies; and
- Scoping of needs and options for a computerised laboratory management information system (LMIS).
Training was carried out on site in PRC and at AgriQuality’s laboratories in New Zealand.
Improved test methods were implemented and laboratory staff improved their capability in laboratory business planning and quality assurance. This enabled the model site to become a demonstration and learning facility for MoA to extend the new approaches to other laboratories in its national network.
The project gave Prime valuable exposure and insights into PRC’s agriculture and food industries, which led to several other initiatives in following years. In 2002, Dr Alan Pearson of Prime was invited as to address the Western China Modern Agriculture Development Forum as a keynote speaker.
Prime team members involved:
- Alan Pearson
- Grant Jeffrey
- Inputs also from Susan Cao and AgriQuality New Zealand Ltd