Beijing: China and the US will seek to deepen bilateral cooperation in the agriculture sector, food security, sustainable development during a crucial visit of Vice President Xi Jinping to Washington, a top Chinese official on Sunday said.

As Xi prepares for an official US visit from February 13 to 17, Agriculture Minister Han Changfu said both countries will push forward cooperation in the areas of food security, sustainable development, agricultural trade and science and technology, creating opportunities for cooperation between agricultural enterprises and promoting joint research on agriculture.

The visit of Xi, who is expected to take over as President next year after the retirement of incumbent Hu Jintao, is described as an imaging building trip.

US with its advanced agricultural science, technology and research made headway into such fields as seed breeding and production, and has world-class multinational companies in agriculture, while China has broad market demands as well as leading technologies in food production, biomass energy and agricultural produce processing, he said.

China and the US have conducted effective cooperation in crop plantation, stock raising, fishery, agricultural research and education, agricultural product processing and circulation, Han said in an interview.

The two nations have launched more than 500 science and technology exchange programmes since they established the working group on agricultural science and technology cooperation in 1980, with around 3,000 experts involved.

The Chinese Agriculture Minister said the two countries have maintained effective cooperation between academies and universities of agricultural sciences and nurtured a great number of talents, which have made important contributions for the advancement and development of agricultural science and industry of both nations.

Bilateral agricultural trade volume has increased to USD 24.5 billion from USD 4.1 billion during 2001 to 2010, with an average annual growth of 22 percent, according to official statistics.

In 2010, China imported USD 18.6 billion worth of agricultural produce from the US.

This accounted for 13 percent of the US' total agricultural exports, Han said, adding that China has become the main destination for American agricultural exports.

In the same year, China exported USD 5.8 billion worth of agricultural produce to the US, 12 percent of its total exports in the sector.

The US is the third-biggest recipient of Chinese agricultural exports.

The growing challenges posed by food security and climate change have also promoted cooperation between the two agricultural industries, he said.

The Agriculture Minister called on China and the United States to jointly promote investment cooperation between enterprises of the two countries in the areas of technology application and sustainable development, and create a good atmosphere for developing bilateral agricultural trade relations.

Han said the sustainable development of China-US agricultural cooperation has benefited from sound and efficient cooperative mechanisms such as the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade and the China-US Joint Commission on Agriculture.

In recent years, the two ministries have also enhanced their cooperation in agricultural policies, market information, research and development of agricultural sciences and technology, sustainable development and global food security, Han said.

(Agencies)