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Key Yangling base driving agricultural collaboration

By QIN FENG in Xi'an and ZHAO RUINAN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-07-05 08:58

Professor Zhang Dong from Northwest A&F University (right) trains farmers in Kyrgyzstan in April. XINHUA

A base in Yangling, Shaanxi province, has become a key platform for demonstrating advanced Chinese agricultural techniques, facilitating agricultural imports and exports, and hosting training programs and international exchanges.

On June 10, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Demonstration Base for Agriculture Technology Exchange and Training received a special congratulatory letter celebrating its fifth anniversary from the Kazakhstan's consulate in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi.

"Over the past five years, 66 Kazakh agricultural officials and technicians have been trained at the base, learning advanced Chinese agricultural techniques," the letter said. "Kazakh agricultural products have also entered China through the base and the China-Europe freight train."

Initiated in 2019, the base, which is part of the Yangling Agricultural Hi-tech Industries Demonstration Zone, has become a crucial platform for agricultural collaboration among nations and regions that are involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

It has hosted more than 40 significant events, including the SCO Forum on Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development. It has also trained agricultural experts and technicians who come from SCO member countries.

"We have trained more than 2,000 agricultural officials and technicians from SCO countries, held 37 remote training sessions on agricultural technology, and saw 37,000 people participate in online workshops to learn Chinese agricultural techniques," said Ma Jing, executive deputy director of the base.

Shortly after the Labor Day holiday in May, Zhang Zhengmao, a wheat breeding expert at Northwest A&F University in Yangling, traveled to an SCO agricultural demonstration park in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to teach farmers sowing techniques.

For several years, Zhang and his colleagues have traveled between China and Kazakhstan, fostering agricultural cooperation between the two countries.

Agriculture is a vital area of economic collaboration in the SCO region.

Zhang Ming, secretary-general of the SCO, has emphasized the importance of collaboration to achieve agricultural scientific and technological innovation, calling for the exchange of agricultural technologies, expanding agricultural trade and improving food production to ensure regional and global food security.

Over the past five years, the Yangling base has focused on meeting the agricultural needs of SCO countries. It has sent 73 teams of more than 190 experts to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, where they have established modern agricultural technology demonstration parks to foster international collaboration in agriculture.

The demonstration zone and Northwest A&F University have established 10 overseas agricultural technology demonstration parks in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Australia, Russia and the United States. They have completed trials and demonstrations of 115 high-quality crop varieties and efficient cultivation techniques, covering more than 2 million hectares combined.

Driven by the SCO base, the demonstration zone's imports and exports were worth a total of 1.1 billion yuan ($151.5 million) last year, with an average annual growth of more than 20 percent.

In addition, Xi'an Aiju Grain and Oil Industrial Group has engaged in contract farming on 100,000 hectares in Kazakhstan, importing 100,000 metric tons of grain and oil products last year and serving as a model of China-Kazakhstan agricultural collaboration.

SCO agricultural trade activities have also continued to thrive. In September 2022, the first SCO agricultural expo was held in Shaanxi. Canola oil from Kazakhstan, linden honey and pickles from Russia and Kyrgyz onions and grapes were among the star products featured.

SCO Deputy Secretary-General Sohail Khan said that given current global food security challenges, strengthening exchanges and collaboration in modern agriculture will promote sustained socioeconomic development among member countries.

Wei Feng, of Northwest A&F University, said: "In terms of food security, for example, their complementary advantages provide a solid foundation for collaboration. Opportunities lie in areas such as food production, foreign trade and agricultural talent and technological exchanges."

Covering about 135 square kilometers, Yangling is about 80 kilometers west of Xi'an, where the ancient Silk Road started.

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