Visitors learn about products at the booth of Shaanxi Fast Auto Drive Group Co., Ltd. during the Sixth Silk Road International Exposition in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Aug. 16, 2022. (Xinhua/Li Yibo)
XI'AN, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- In recent years, with the Belt and Road Initiative, China and the countries along the route actively carried out cooperation in the field of agriculture and worked together to maintain regional food security.
China has signed agricultural and fishery cooperation documents with more than 80 countries, and more than 650 agricultural investment cooperation projects have been carried out in countries along the Belt and Road.
"The Belt and Road region, with its vast territory and rich agricultural resources, is an important area for China's agricultural cooperation and trade, and plays a significant role in ensuring food security and agricultural product safety," said Ma Lili with the School of Economics and Management at Northwest University.
Ma pointed out that the Belt and Road Initiative has created favorable conditions for agricultural cooperation in terms of connectivity, trade and investment facilitation, monetary integration, and promotion of exchanges.
The construction and connection of large markets will help countries and regions along the route to carry out a differentiated division of labor, promote specialized production, and expand competitive advantages; the exchange and cooperation in the field of agricultural science and technology will help share knowledge and improve the efficiency and quality of agricultural production, Ma said.
According to data from the General Administration of Customs, in 2021, China imported 326.55 billion yuan (about 47.84 billion U.S. dollars) of agricultural products from the Belt and Road countries, an increase of 26.1 percent year on year. The scale of agricultural product trade has steadily increased, and the cooperation between the industrial chain and the supply chain has become closer.
At a Belt and Road forum on agricultural trade and rural revitalization within the framework of the Sixth Silk Road International Exposition, which closed last Thursday, Ye Niuping, vice governor of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, introduced the province's agricultural product exports.
"Today, our apples and kiwifruit are exported to more than 80 countries and regions around the world. More than 50 brands can compete with other brands from other countries in the overseas market," Ye said, adding that the fruit seedlings of Baishui County in Shaanxi have been exported to Africa for the first time, and vegetables of Jingyang County also appear on the international tables.
Inspired by the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi'an Aiju Grain and Oil Industrial Group, a traditional grain and oil enterprise founded in 1934, established a factory in Kazakhstan in 2015 to promote the "contract farming" planting mode.
Now, Aiju Group has signed agricultural orders with farmers in Kazakhstan, covering about 100,000 hectares of wheat and oil crops, and the processing and storage capacity of grain and oil reaching 300,000 tonnes.
Since the beginning of this year, affected by COVID-19, extreme weather, geographical conflicts, and other factors, the global food industry chain and supply chain have been impacted, making it imperative to maintain regional food security through agricultural cooperation in countries along the Belt and Road.
Experts say that in the future, agricultural cooperation among Belt and Road countries can be upgraded in many aspects, including policy, technology, talent exchange, trade, and financial investment.
"More than ever, we need to innovate agricultural technology, optimize production methods, stimulate agricultural development, jointly deal with natural disasters, and share the fruits of agricultural development on the principle of equality and mutual benefit," said Gu Weibing, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. ■