The agricultural ministries of China and the United States are to boost levels of cooperation to benefit mutual development, it was reported on Sunday.
Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu announced the move in an interview with Xinhua News Agency prior to Vice-President Xi Jinping's visit to the US.
Agriculture was one of the first areas in which China and the US began to cooperate, as both were large agricultural producers and viewed it as a vital and basic industry, said Han.
After 30 years, a solid foundation has been laid, with extensive exchange and cooperation programs at all levels, he added.
According to Han, the agricultural ministries of both countries will increase cooperation in the areas of food safety, sustainable development, agricultural trade, and science and technology.
This will create opportunities for closer ties between agricultural enterprises and joint research projects.
China and the US have effectively worked together on crop plantation, stock raising, fisheries, research and education, food processing and distribution, he explained.
The two nations have launched more than 500 exchange programs since they established the working group on agricultural science and technology cooperation in 1980, involving around 3,000 experts.
Han said the rapid growth in bilateral agricultural trade had resulted in an improved restructuring of the industry and increased agricultural production in both countries.
The volume of agricultural trade between the two nations has increased from $4.1 billion in 2001 to $24.5 billion in 2010, with an average annual growth of 22 percent, according to official statistics.
In 2010, China imported $18.6 billion of agricultural produce from the US. This accounted for 13 percent of US total agricultural exports, said Han, making China its biggest market.
The growing challenges posed by food security and climate change have also encouraged greater cooperation between the two agricultural industries, Han added.
Since its reform and opening-up, China has attracted and made use of foreign capital to step up construction of a modern agricultural industry, he said.
Han said the sustainable development of agricultural cooperation had benefited from the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade and the Joint Commission on Agriculture, which had its fourth meeting in 2011.