Business / Companies

Opening up fields of cooperation with outside world

By Zhong Nan (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-08 07:59

China has long controlled its staple grain import quota to ensure food security. But the nation's agricultural sector is welcoming high-end farming products from Europe.

Syngenta AG, the largest European producer of hybrid seeds and crop protection products, is just one of the foreign companies contributing to China's agricultural development.

Christoph Maeder, member of the executive board of Syngenta AG, said: "We are ... developing new technology which should enable farmers, together with the right agronomic knowledge, to really improve productivity, and thereby also producing more sustainable farming methods."

China's food security needs an integrated and comprehensive approach that includes international cooperation, infrastructure investment and education, as well as science and technology, Maeder said. He was speaking at the Swiss pavilion at Milan Expo 2015, which has food security and renewable energy as its themes.

Syngenta exhibited in the Swiss pavilion from May 1 to June 12 during the expo. The company highlighted the challenges of food security and showcased the importance of innovation and partnership in the development of sustainable agriculture solutions at the expo.

China has the world's largest agricultural output, but it faces a severe shortage of arable land caused by urbanization, industrialization and climate change, according to a study by the China National Grain and Oils Information Center in March.

In addition to coping with environmental issues, China also has to feed a growing and increasingly wealthy population that wants better and more nutritious food.

China will need to feed 1.45 billion people amid a drive for more sustainable economic growth that focuses on quality over quantity and emphasizes environmental stewardship and equity.

"From a long-term perspective, we believe that innovation, technology and collaboration will be the pillars of ongoing growth. Syngenta is willing to work with both the Chinese government and farmers to supply the quality tools needed to meet the demand of food security," said Maeder.

Last year, the Swiss company invested $52.4 million to build a factory in East China's Jiangsu province, producing more than 134 types of agrochemicals. It became operational in March.

The company also received a safety certificate from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture for its Viptera corn, known as MIR 162, in December.

Syngenta has employed more than 2,000 people in China since it started business in the country in 1998. It has invested $360 million in China since 2000 to compete with established rivals from the United States and Germany.

The company's global sales in 2014 reached $15.1 billion through the work of 28,000 people in more than 90 countries and regions.

Although China has a fragmented agricultural structure, with farm sizes smaller than those in developed nations, there is potential for growth said Maeder.

"Collaborating with international companies will not only accelerate the development and introduction of bio-technology, but also reduce vulnerability to pests, increase grain supplies and cut down food prices," said Tian Zhihong, a professor of food security and grain trade at China Agricultural University in Beijing.

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