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China-Central Asia agricultural cooperation under SCO framework yields fruits


On the wall of Professor Zhang Zhengmao's office at Northwest A&F University hangs a map of Central Asia. Every time he visits a place, he marks it on the map. "I've been to 10 places in Kazakhstan," Zhang said.

Kazakhstan is one of the world's major grain exporters, and China is an important market for Kazakh grain. In 2017, Zhang came to Kazakhstan for the first time to participate in the implementation of the China-Kazakhstan Agricultural Science and Technology Demonstration Park construction project.

Zhang said that Kazakhstan has suitable conditions for growing wheat, such as fertile soil, abundant light and heat resources. However, the local wheat is not resistant to diseases and lodging, and China has conducted a lot of research in this area. "The complementary advantages of China and Kazakhstan have made cooperation a natural fit," he added.

Wheat field in Kazakhstan. /CFP
Wheat field in Kazakhstan. /CFP

Wheat field in Kazakhstan. /CFP

To cultivate varieties more suitable for planting in Kazakhstan, Zhang's team has cooperated with breeding institutions in Gansu, Xinjiang and other places to use the cross-regional shuttle breeding method for multi-ecological zone selection. "After testing, our selected varieties have obvious advantages in number of spikes, weight of 1000 kernels and grain plumpness," Zhang said.

Azibai, deputy general manager of the Aiju Agricultural Product Logistics Processing Park in Kazakhstan, said: "The excellent seed varieties provided by China have improved the yield and quality of wheat in Kazakhstan. These products are exported to China and are deeply loved by consumers."

Farmers are busy sowing wheat during the spring planting season in Kazakhstan, June 4, 2024. /CFP
Farmers are busy sowing wheat during the spring planting season in Kazakhstan, June 4, 2024. /CFP

Farmers are busy sowing wheat during the spring planting season in Kazakhstan, June 4, 2024. /CFP

Under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Belt and Road Initiative, the Northwest A&F University has established eight agricultural science and technology demonstration parks overseas. Many other Chinese companies and universities have also set up agricultural demonstration bases with local peers across Central Asia, such as on grain and oil crop production as well as the improvement of saline-alkali land in Kazakhstan. 

It is expected that agricultural trade will be one of the rising trade categories between China and Central Asia that will record rapid growth this year. Zhang said that Kazakhstan exports 6-8 million tonnes of wheat every year on average, and its exports to China are only 800,000 tonnes annually, indicating huge potential for agricultural trade expansion. "China and Central Asia are good neighbors and have established mutual trust, with development strategies aligning with each other. The two sides also have a joint vision of a China-Central Asia community with a shared future. All of these lay a foundation for closer and more comprehensive economic relations," Zhang said.

(With input from Global Times)

(Cover image via CFP)

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