Fruitful Relations: Cherry orchard growing ties between China and Tajikistan
Agriculture is the pillar of Tajikistan's economy, and cherries are a key part of it. The fruit is also playing a role in a joint venture with China. In fact, a Chinese businessman has invested in one of the largest cherry orchards in Tajikistan. CGTN's He Weiwei has more.
It's harvest time for cherries. In Hisor, a small town about an hour's drive from Dushanbe, Tajikistan's capital, local farmers are busy picking the sugary fruit.
"It's the busiest time of the year. I pluck about 70 to 100 kilograms of cherries every day."
This is one of the largest cherry orchards in Tajikistan, more than 40-thousand cherry trees planted in the mountainous country. Kang Zhongyu, a Chinese businessman living in Tajikistan for over 20 years, found it's the perfect place for cherries and invested in it.
KANG ZHONGYU OWNER, TAJIK CHERRY ORCHARD "The altitude here is 800 meters, and the temperature difference between day and night can reach 20 degrees Celsius, with long periods of sunshine. These factors make this the best place to grow cherries."
Kang not only made a financial commitment, he has also brought Chinese agricultural and farming experience here.
KANG ZHONGYU OWNER, TAJIK CHERRY ORCHARD "Usually, people want the trees to be as big as possible, but now we'll control their size so the fruit tastes better. Meanwhile, we follow the old plantation methods, keeping a large space between trees to let the branches grow horizontally."
China imported nearly 200-thousand tons of cherries last year valued at 1.3 billion dollars including some from Tajikistan. It's now a source of income which local people can rely on. At the peak of the harvest season, more than a thousand farmers are needed in this orchard.
"I've been working here for 10 years. In the summer, every family in our village will have someone come to help with plucking. It's an important source of income."
Good taste and competitive prices make the cherry popular at the market.
HE WEIWEI HISOR, TAJIKISTAN "May, June and July see the harvest of the Cherries. After being picked and packed, these cherries will be exported to Russia and China by cargo planes. Within 24 hours, the fruit will be served on the table of consumers."
Tajikistan was among the first countries to participle in China's Belt and Road initiative. Agricultural cooperation under that framework is expected to see more opportunities and bring more benefits to both peoples. HWW, CGTN, TAJIKISTAN.