China / Society

Central Asian farmers to reap benefits

By Zhong Nan, Lu Hongyan and Ma Lie in Xi'an (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-23 07:07

Central Asian farmers to reap benefits

Editor's note: During his visit to Kazakhstan in September, President Xi Jinping proposed that China and Central Asia join hands to build a Silk Road economic belt to boost cooperation. The idea has been widely echoed in Central Asian countries, becoming an encouraging blueprint for Chinese areas along the Silk Road that has linked Asia and Europe for more than 2,000 years. In the next three weeks, China Daily reporters will travel through the belt in China and in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkey. They will show the progress and expectations of the countries, businesses and peoples on the route.

Farm planting technologies and anti-drought grain seeds, which have long been driving parts of western China's agricultural sector, are finding new growth thanks to Central Asian countries' rising demand to improve the output of various farm products.

The opportunities come from Central Asian nations' rising investment in various agricultural sectors and rapid urban development. Countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have all begun seeking technical solutions and human assistance from China, which is good at using limited land and resources to feed its enormous population.

Yangling Agricultural Demonstration Zone, which is Shaanxi's largest international agricultural technology and production zone specializing in anti-drought grain and flower seed production and technology and is close to Xi'an, began to transfer its technology to Central Asian nations in 2006.

Wang Baoping, deputy director of the Yangling Agricultural zone, said the northern part of Shaanxi province has weather and soil conditions that are similar to certain Central Asian regions.

The zone has established a specialized research center to develop anti-drought seeds.

Wang said farmers in Central Asia will be big beneficiaries of China's effort to build the modern Silk Road Economic Belt.

"The train of Chang'an, the first international cargo train running from Xi'an to Kazakhstan, will carry more of the zone's agricultural products to the marketplace in Central Asia, which will be our market focus over the next five years," said Wang.

The zone currently has more than 120 agriculture-related enterprises and 32 modern production bases to grow various fruits, vegetable, wheat and flowers.

Yan Xiaoqin, deputy general manager of Shaanxi Yangling Huicheng Fruit Co Ltd, said Shaanxi province has plans to cooperate with other apple production areas in the planned Silk Road Economic Belt to set up apple stores in Xinjiang and in Central Asian cities to serve as steppingstones to Russia and Europe.

Exchange activities related to apples and technology have become significant symbols of industrial cooperation between Shaanxi and Kazakhstan.

Shaanxi Yangling will send 20 employees to Kazakhstan to introduce its apple-planting technology and help capable local companies build apple-processing factories to diversify their businesses. The company also plans to build three air-conditioned warehouses for apples in Kazakhstan.

"Central Asia's ongoing urbanization is also transforming people from farmers to urban residents every year, which means their diet will change from grain to more protein-rich foods such as fruit, meat, eggs, milk and yogurt," said Yan.

Shao Ge, board chairman of Yangling Leda Biology Science and Technology Co Ltd, which produces anti-drought grain and flower seeds, said, "We have discovered the potential of expanding our business westward."

Yangling Leda has already signed a contract worth 300 million yuan with its business partner in Kyrgyzstan to expand its market share in that country.

"With fast economic growth pace, many city councils in Kyrgyzstan are keen to improve the outlook of their cities. They have seen huge demand for gaining flower planting technology and seeds from Shaanxi in recent years," said Ge.

 Central Asian farmers to reap benefits

A staff member examines the quality of seeds in a temperature-controlled storage at Yangling Leda Biology Science and Technology Co Ltd located in Yangling Agricultural Demonstration Zone, Shaanxi province, on Thursday. Jiang Dong / China Daily

(China Daily 05/23/2014 page7)

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