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Overseas cooperation grows at leading agricultural center

By Chen Yingqun | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-02 07:57

Standing under the burning sun in a sweltering apple orchard in the afternoon is not a pleasant experience, but for overseas students who want to learn agricultural technology in Yangling area in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, it is how an ordinary class takes place.

More than 30 students from Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Tanzania and Thailand were learning water-saving irrigation technology in the China-Kazakhstan Friendship Orchard, located in the Yangling Agricultural High-Tech Industries Demonstration Zone, 80 kilometers from Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province.

Guo Lanjun, general manager of the orchard, said it produced 4,000-5,000 kilograms of apples annually, and half of them are exported to countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan.

Due to the high quality of its products, the orchard also acts as an education base and offers training and guidance to overseas agricultural technicians, on subjects ranging from management of apple orchards and how to protect them from being damaged by insects.

Guo's apple orchard is only a small part of Yangling zone's international exchanges and cooperation in agricultural sector. As China's first agricultural high-tech industries demonstration zone, Yangling has about 6,000 researchers on some 70 subjects within the agricultural sector.

Tens of thousands of people, especially those related with the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, also come all the way to Yangling to learn about its advanced agricultural technology.

Since 2005, the demonstration zone has trained more than 1,500 agricultural officials and technicians from 106 countries.

Ma Jing, deputy director of the international cooperation bureau of the demonstration zone, said that the training classes mainly targeted people from developing countries, on various subjects such as dry-land agriculture, agricultural economics and green city construction.

Yangling has co-established demonstration parks of modern agricultural technology with the United States, New Zealand, Netherlands and Israel in the area. It also has built eight cooperation agricultural parks overseas to help with local agricultural development, such as in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia.

Luo Jun, vice-president of the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, which is located in Yangling, said that there was great potential for strengthening cooperation in the agricultural sector with countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

"Many countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt have similar weather conditions and ecological environments compared with the Northwest part of China, and have similar technological requirements for agricultural development," he said.

Between 2007 to 2016 the university enrolled more than 1,000 overseas students from 53 countries, and about 60 percent of them are from the economies taking part in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Diddugodage Chamila Jeewani from Sri Lanka has studied at the university for about four years for her doctorate in genetic crop breeding. Before, she was the assistant director for research in the Department of Agriculture in Sri Lanka.

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