Plant­ing the seeds for a green fu­ture M-Grass has been a pathfinder for busi­nesses in North China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By WU YONG and YUAN HUI in Ho­hhot

Un­der swel­ter­ing sum­mer tem­per­a­tures of 40 C, a high­lyskilled team from M-Grass toil on ecol­ogy projects in the glitzy United Arab Emi­rates city of Dubai.

The Chi­nese en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion com­pany was brought in to work on pub­lic parks, desert ar­eas and villa de­vel­op­ments be­cause of its ex­per­tise.

Of­fi­cially known as the M-Grass Ecol­ogy & En­vi­ron­ment (Group) Co Ltd, the firm is af­fec­tion­ately called just M-Grass and has been a pathfinder for busi­nesses in North China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

“We have op­er­ated in more than a dozen prov­inces in China as well as in mar­kets such as Dubai in the UAE,” said Zheng Nan, an in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer at M-Grass. “We are also look­ing at op­por­tu­ni­ties in Sin­ga­pore and Russia.”

The group has a big rep­u­ta­tion, and is the only listed com­pany in China that spe­cial­izes in eco­log­i­cal restora­tion, seed tech­nol­ogy and state-of-the-art grass cul­ti­va­tion op­er­a­tion.

Founded in 2001, M-Grass is based in Ho­hhot, cap­i­tal of In­ner Mon­go­lia, and its core busi­ness is de­scribed as “eco­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment engi­neer­ing”, in a com­pany pro­file on Reuters.

With more than 1,500 em­ploy­ees, the group posted rev­enue of $422 mil­lion last year, an in­crease of 61.78 per cent com­pared to 2015.

In the first quar­ter of 2017, rev­enue was $45 mil­lion, a 160 per cent in­crease com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

“In 2016, the com­pany agreed a 10 bil­lion yuan ($1.47 bil­lion) co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment with Bao­tou, the largest in­dus­trial city in In­ner Mon­go­lia to re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal i mpact of build­ings and im­prove the amount of green space avail- bil­lion able i n t he city,” Xinhua re­ported. It is this core busi­ness that has made M-Grass a suc­cess story. For years, lo­cal govern­ments had bat­tled to find ways to counter de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“China has vast grass­lands along its border,” said Yu Guangjun, di­rec­tor of the in­sti­tute of eco­nom­ics at the In­ner Mon­go­lia Academy of So­cial Sciences. “These have been vi­tal to curb the trend.”

Dur­ing the past decade, M-Grass’ team has trav­eled across the re­gions to col­lect more than 8,000 dif­fer­ent grass seeds and more than 11,000 soil sam­ples.

“I al­ways be­lieved that the en­vi­ron­ment was smart enough to help us,” said Wang Zhaom­ing, the group’s chair­man. “Na­tive plants are the best and safest so­lu­tions for eco­log­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

“We will con­tinue to do re­search on dif­fer­ent types of grass,” he added. “This will play a big role in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and help boost the econ­omy.”

By the end of last year, M-Grass had set up an in­tel­li­gent search plat­form, in­te­grat­ing data on grass, soil, water, me­te­o­rol­ogy, live­stock and mi­cro­bial.

“In a mat­ter of sec­onds, you can find all the in­for­ma­tion you need once you put in lon­gi­tude and lat­i­tude fig­ures,” said Gao Jun­gang, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the group. “And we keep im­prov­ing and up­dat­ing the plat­form across the re­gions.”

Re­search and de­vel­op­ment pro­grams are cru­cial to M-Grass, as well as cen­tral gov­ern­ment back­ing.

Since 2000, Bei­jing has in­vested 11.67 bil­lion yuan in eco­log­i­cal projects in In­ner Mon­go­lia, Gao Xilin, forestry depart­ment di­rec­tor of In­ner Mon­go­lia, pointed out.

Pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ships, or PPP, have also helped chan­nel fund­ing into en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion pro­grams.

Last year, M-Grass signed a 20 bil­lion yuan con­tract with Ho­hhot’s mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment for ma­jor eco­log­i­cal restora­tion projects. This con­trib­uted to about 92 per cent of the group’s rev­enue in 2016.

“M-Grass has been great for the re­gion,” said Li Ji­heng, Party chief of CPC In­ner Mon­go­lia. “The eco­log­i­cal restora­tion mar­ket is very big. I just hope the com­pany re­tains its com­pet­i­tive­ness by pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent ser­vices.”

among of money Bei­jing has in­vested in eco­log­i­cal projects in In­ner Mon­go­lia si­ince 2000.

Zou Yu­meng con­trib­uted to this story.

Con­tact the writer at wuy­ong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Tech­ni­cians ob­serve grass growth at a M-Grass’ lab in Ho­hhot, North China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

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