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Nation supports Kazakh farming

By Jiang Xueqing in Almaty, Kazakhstan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-29 10:23
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Manshuk Zhexembekova, manager of the Kazakh agricultural company Integrachia-Turgen, displays samples of wheat, oats and peas in her office. [Photo by Jiang Xueqing / China Daily]

Chinese side helps build greenhouses in innovation park, providing seeds and technologies

Du Shuangshe, a farmer from Northwest China's Shaanxi province, said he is looking forward to seeing the greenhouse-grown tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers produced at the China-Kazakhstan Modern Agriculture Innovation Park in Turgen, a village in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan.

One of Du's major responsibilities is to select the best seeds introduced from China that can survive the chilly winters of Kazakhstan. With over 20 years of experience in vegetable planting, Du said he hopes to show local farmers how to grow vegetables in a greenhouse and share his know-how with them.

"Local farmers rarely take good care of vegetables and crops after sowing. They leave tomatoes growing in the field without building trellises to support the plant's sprawling vines and heavy fruit. We want to help them improve their planting patterns by showing them our way of farming," he said.

State-owned Yangling Modern Agriculture Demonstration Park Development and Construction Co Ltd runs the agriculture innovation park. It is building three greenhouses in addition to experimenting with the introduction of 45 varieties of crops from China to Kazakhstan.

The crops, including wheat, corn and soybeans, are classified into six types. Agricultural technicians from Yangling district of Xianyang, Shaanxi province, chose seeds from certain areas of China that have a similar climate and soil conditions to Kazakhstan's.

The technicians have worked at the agriculture innovation park since 2015, recording the crops' growth status and comparing their performance with their local counterparts annually. They observe their disease and drought resistance, and productivity, to identify better-performing varieties.

So far, WW-5, a variety of wheat introduced during the year 2017-18, has shown prominent features of rust and drought resistance, as well as a high yield. Its output reached 4,815 kilograms per hectare, 44 percent higher than the yield of local varieties.

In the year 2015-16, the P2 variety of soybean also bore more soybean pods and larger seeds, yielding 3,487.5 kg per hectare, 33 percent higher than the production of local varieties.

To promote agricultural technology cooperation between China and Kazakhstan, the administrative commission of the Yangling agricultural high-tech industries demonstration zone signed an agreement with the International Fund Integration of Kazakhstan in May 2015, to build the 200-hectare modern agriculture innovation park in Turgen.

The park is jointly operated by Yangling Modern Agriculture Demonstration Park Development and Construction Co Ltd and Integrachia-Turgen, an agricultural company in Kazakhstan. According to the initial agreement, the Chinese side will provide technologies, seeds and the investment for construction of three greenhouses, while the Kazakh side will provide the land, said Manshuk Zhexembekova, manager of Integrachia-Turgen.

"The greatest benefit of our cooperation is that we can learn advanced agriculture technologies and knowledge," said Zhexembekova.

"We have built a platform that shows new technologies and new varieties of agricultural products from the Yangling agricultural high-tech industries demonstration zone to agriculture professionals from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. At the current stage, we're still doing experiments. If we find that the yield is high for certain varieties, we'll recommend them to local farmers. The greenhouse technology will also be promoted if local residents like it," she said.

Abumuslim Alisultanovich, an agricultural technician with Integrachia-Turgen, has been tracking the growth of a cornfield at the agriculture innovation park for over a year. He found that the corn varieties from China show strong resistance to diseases and drought.

"Unlike some nations whose main purpose is to sell their products in Kazakhstan, the Chinese came here to disseminate technologies," he said.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev highlighted the benefits of the agricultural cooperation with China in an interview with Xinhua News Agency in May.

The trade volume of agricultural products between China and Kazakhstan has surged 20 percent in the past five years, and the export of Kazakh agricultural products to China has more than doubled, he said.

Responding enthusiastically to the Belt and Road Initiative, the Yangling demonstration zone has set up trade and investment service centers in Kazakhstan and Russia and built international technology cooperation parks in Central Asia to promote the commercialization of agricultural research findings.

Liu Na, international cooperation manager at Yangling Modern Agriculture Demonstration Park Development and Construction, said: "We'll develop Yangling into a center for international agricultural cooperation in the economies related to the Belt and Road Initiative."

The Yangling demonstration zone has hired a total of 81 overseas agriculture experts since 2012. It has built a team of experts for technical assistance and sent more than 20 experts to developing countries every year to offer training on 11 subjects, including soil and water conservation, water-saving irrigation in drought regions and modern agricultural economics.

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