BRI helping China enhance global food ties
China is enhancing agricultural cooperation with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative in the hope of making a greater contribution to global agricultural development and economic growth.
“China will offer policy and financial support to food trade and infrastructure construction, to encourage Chinese grain enterprises to cooperate with BRI countries,” Zhang Wufeng, head of the State Grain and Reserves Administration, said at a recent international food cooperation forum in Lanzhou, Northwestern China’s Gansu province.
During the forum, Gansu reached agreements to import quality wheat from Belarus and export its potatoes and olive oil to Azerbaijan.
“Agricultural development is a common concern among the BRI countries,” says Elsa Asadov, vicepresident of Azerbaijan Agricultural Products Supply and Marketing Corp.
“We look forward to establishing a more effective partnership with China, hoping to export Azerbaijan’s organic food and bring in China’s agricultural technology, investment and experience.”
In ancient times, agricultural exchanges were active along the Silk Road, which brought crops including sesame and pomegranates to China and took Chinese tea and silk to Central Asia.
Today, with most BRI countries working on reducing hunger, poverty and ensuring food security, agricultural cooperation is still a common expectation.
Zhang said at the forum that China has significantly improved its ability to ensure food security in recent years, being able to feed 20 percent of the world’s population with 10 percent of the world’s cultivated land and 6 percent of its fresh water.
“There are still 37 countries in the world that still need food aid. BRI countries have complementary advantages and can promote food trade and cooperation,” Zhang said.
According to a national action plan under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative released in 2017, provinces in western China will cooperate with Central Asia on grain, animal husbandry and cotton, while northern provinces will work with the Russian Far East on grain and vegetables, and southern provinces will grow grain and tropical cash crops in collaboration with countries in Southeast and South Asia.
Cheng Guoqiang, a professor at Tongji University in Shanghai, says the new round of international agricultural cooperation will help improve integrated production capability in BRI countries and regions.