Chi­nese agri firms grow in B&R mar­kets

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business -

De­spite his re­luc­tance to leave his two-month-old son, Chi­nese farmer Duan Lin flew to Ta­jik­istan in March.

It was the fourth time that Duan, one of 16 Chi­nese man­agers on a 1,670-hectare Ta­jik farm, had flown to the Cen­tral Asian coun­try af­ter the Chi­nese Lu­nar New Year.

Be­fore be­ing sent to Ta­jik­istan in 2015 as a tech­ni­cal ad­viser, Duan, 30, worked as an agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy pro­mo­tion em­ployee at Huang­fanqu Farm, where his grand­fa­ther and father had also worked.

The Huang­fanqu Farm was es­tab­lished in 1951 based on a large par­cel of land in Xi­hua and Fu­gou coun­ties in China’s cen­tral He­nan prov­ince. The land was flooded by the Yel­low River, China’s sec­ond long­est, in the 1930s due to war and be­came un­suit­able for farm­ing be­cause of high soil salin­ity.

Af­ter three gen­er­a­tions of ef­forts, the 6,670 hectares of land be­came arable again. In re­cent years, the farm started to seek ex­pan­sion op­por­tu­ni­ties along the an­cient Silk Road trade routes.

“The State-owned farm could hardly sup­port its work­force of 30,000 peo­ple. New growth driv­ers were ur­gently needed,” said Zhai Jinzhong, di­rec­tor of the farm’s over­seas in­vest­ment de­part­ment.

About 10 years ago, the farm’s of­fi­cials vis­ited coun­tries in­clud­ing Namibia, Uganda, Cam­bo­dia and Myan­mar to seek po­ten­tial in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, said Zhai.

In 2013, the same year China pro­posed the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, the farm es­tab­lished sub­sidiaries in Ta­jik­istan and Ukraine. Now the farm grows wheat, corn and cot­ton in Ta­jik­istan and raises cows in Ukraine.

In Ta­jik­istan, the farm has in­vested more than 200 milThe lion yuan ($31.6 mil­lion) in im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture and build­ing cot­ton pro­cess­ing plants. As a re­sult, its av­er­age out­put of cot­ton reached 3.5 tons per hectare, 50 per­cent higher than lo­cal lev­els.

farm in Ta­jik­istan has achieved full mech­a­niza­tion and two har­vests of corn and wheat per year, a shift from the coun­try’s “one har­vest per year” tra­di­tion.

“When Chi­nese agri­cul­ture goes global, it is not just rent­ing land. It is quite com­pre­hen­sive, in­clud­ing ex­changes in trade and tech­nol­ogy,” said Han Yi­jun, a pro­fes­sor with China Agri­cul­tural Univer­sity.

As the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive pushes ahead, China is en­cour­ag­ing its agri­cul­tural firms to ex­pand over­seas and pro­mote agri­cul­tural trade with coun­tries and re­gions along the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and the 21st-Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road.

Many com­pa­nies and agri­cul­tural re­search in­sti­tutes have an­swered the call. The Chi­nese Academy of Agri­cul­tural Sciences has in­tro­duced 61 agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and tech­nolo­gies to coun­tries par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

Yan­gling Agri­cul­ture Hi-Tech In­dus­trial Zone, a na­tional-level high-tech de­vel­op­ment zone in Shaanxi prov­ince, has es­tab­lished mod­ern agri­cul­tural demon­stra­tion parks in Kaza­khstan and Kyr­gyzs­tan and signed agreements with over 20 coun­tries to deepen agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion.

“When we first came here, there were only two Chi­nese agri­cul­tural com­pa­nies in Ta­jik­istan and now there are at least five. The Cen­tral Asian re­gion has be­come a hot in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion for Chi­nese agri­cul­tural firms,” said Duan.

“As more coun­tries rec­og­nize the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, I be­lieve more Chi­nese agri­cul­tural firms will go out and pro­mote agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy to ben­e­fit coun­tries and re­gions par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive,” said Gao Fei, a pro­fes­sor at China For­eign Af­fairs Univer­sity.

Year when the Sta­te­owned Huang­fanqu Farm es­tab­lished sub­sidiaries in Ta­jik­istan and Ukraine. Yan­gling Agri­cul­tural Hi-Tech In­dus­trial Zone has op­er­a­tions in Kaza­khstan and Kyr­gyzs­tan.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

An em­ployee har­vests wheat at the Huang­fanqu Farm.

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