NANNING, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Khin Cho Aye, still in her white lab coat at 9:00 p.m., stood beside a huge apparatus continuously humming rapid staccatos. Test results of heavy metal elements illuminated an attached screen, as the Myanmar woman took out another box of soil samples.
As the Lunar New Year approaches, many scientists and engineers at Bossco, an environmental solution provider based in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, are working against the clock.
For the past two years, hundreds of Myanmar students and scientists gained opportunities to study and do research in China under programs sponsored by the Chinese government and companies in a bid to promote people-to-people exchange in science and technology between the two countries. Many of them chose Guangxi, the only region in China that boasts water and land gateways to ASEAN countries, according to the regional government.
Khin Cho Aye had worked for Myanmar's education ministry as a senior researcher and lecturer in biotechnology and focused on remediation techniques for heavy-metal contaminated soil. "My grandparents are farmers. Since I was a kid, I have seen soil quality deteriorating," said Khin Cho Aye, noting that the issue was related to the overuse of chemical fertilizers.
In May 2019, she got an opportunity to participate in a one-year program launched by the regional government of Guangxi and joined the Bossco team. In Guangxi, she tested lab findings in an experimental plot and operated a set of cutting-edge apparatus, which will help her fulfill her dream to restore the soil quality of the cropland back in Myanmar, said Khin Cho Aye.
Such exchange experiences can help Chinese and Myanmar researchers understand each other's values, lifestyles and methodologies, facilitating better scientific and technological cooperation, said Zhu Hongxiang, technical director of Bossco and Ph.D. supervisor at Guangxi University.
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In a laboratory of microbiology and plant resource utilization in the School of Marine and Biotechnology of Guangxi University for Nationalities, Myanmar researchers Thaw Thaw Han and Khaing Phyo Wai swiftly smear bacteria on Petri dishes.
"Back in Myanmar, inoculation is very time-consuming. We used a metal smear loop to plant bacteria on a dish, after which we burned the loop with a lab burner to sterilize it. The worst part is that before applying again, we need to wait until the loop cools down," said Khaing Phyo Wai.
"Chinese researchers inoculate much faster," she said, noting that each time the Chinese researchers use a sterilized bamboo stick instead of a loop. "After the experiment, they have dozens of contaminated sticks. They sterilize them in a bundle and store up for the next time. No burning, no waiting."
"We absolutely would recommend the technique to our colleagues once back home," she said, adding that now she has skillfully maneuvered this technique.
Thaw Thaw Han and Khaing Phyo Wai used to work for Myanmar's Education Ministry. In China, their research focuses on finding plant-growth promoting microbial strains and cultivating more effective bio-fertilizers to make green agriculture more affordable.
The two researchers are among the beneficiaries of the Talented Young Scientists Program launched by China's Ministry of Science and Technology in 2013. The program was under the framework of the BRI Action Plan for Science and Technology Innovation, promoting in-depth scientific and technological exchanges between China and developing countries.
Like China, Myanmar has booming agriculture and a pressing need to ensure healthy food for the people, they said. "I know a brand-new research area after studying here, such as extracting microbial strains from the ocean for bio-fertilizer development. Myanmar also has a long coastline, and I hope to delve deeper in this regard," Thaw Thaw Han added.
Soe Thet Naung, the Myanmar consul general to Nanning, said Guangxi's climate is similar to that of the Shan and Kachin states of Myanmar, an aspect that could help fructify and deepen bilateral exchanges in agricultural research.
He highly valued the bilateral cooperation in agricultural research between China and Myanmar, noting that the two sides have kicked off a series of projects, including the China (Guangxi)-Myanmar Crop Excellent Varieties Experimental Station in Naypyidaw, the Myanmar capital and China-Myanmar Agricultural Science and Technology Demonstration Base.
In 2020, we will mark the 70th anniversary of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations, said Soe Thet Naung.
"Myanmar has always supported the Belt and Road Initiative. At the same time, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi personally led the active participation in the Belt and Road cooperation with China," he said.