How Chinese seeds have changed the life of Kyrgyz farmers

Publish time: 16th January, 2017      Source: Xinhua News Agency
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BISHKEK, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Sherba Kalimovich, the bread winner of a big Kyrgyz family said he had a harvest several times better than before last year when he began to grow corn from high-tech seeds developed by China.


The cornfield has been the main source of income for Kalimovich's 16-member family. Two kilometers away from the field, the couple, their sons and daughter-in-laws share a big house in Iskra town in Chuy oblast.


Kalimovich, 47, began his career as a farmer in 1996. Being a Dungan whose ancestors had lived by farming when they immigrated to Kyrgyzstan from China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces two centuries ago, he is a born expert in planting.


However, he found he was not able to earn enough from traditional farming to provide for his expanding family. Several of his children are still at school and all women are house wives following a widely observed Kyrgyz tradition.


In traditional farming, there are a lot of worries, such as not being able to determine the quality of the seeds, Kalimovich said. He added that sometimes even a good harvest could not guarantee a good income due to price fluctuations on the market.


When people from the Iskra Asia Agricultural Industry Cooperation Zone contacted him at the beginning of 2016 to offer him high-tech corn seeds developed by China, Kalimovich knew it was a good deal, for a good harvest comes not only from experience and hard work but also from technology.


Under the agreement between Kalimovich and Iskra Asia, the Kyrgyz farmer plants the Zheng 1002 and Zheng Huangnuo No. 2 corn seeds developed by China's Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences and had been successfully bred in the industry cooperation zone.


After the harvest, Kalimovich could either sell the corns on the market or sell it to Iskra Asia at a protective price, the agreement said.


Kalimovich rented more lands and expanded his field from 10 hectares to 30 immediately after inking the document. He had made the right choice. "In 2016, my income from corn cultivation increased a lot," he said.


He said his cornfield used to produce 4 tons per hectare with the old seeds, and now it produces 10. He added that seed quality is no longer a problem.


The Kyrgyzstan Iskra Asia Agricultural Industry Cooperation Zone, located in Iskara town, was developed by China's Henan Guiyou Industrial Group in 2011 under the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. [ Iskra Asia was a integrated cooperation zone featuring industries such as breeding, rearing, flattening, slaughtering, and feed and food processing, a logistic center for frozen products and a center of international trade.


After five years, Iskra Asia has grown into one of the leading agricultural industry cooperation zones in Kyrgyzstan based on solid infrastructure, a complete industrial chain and the concept of green operations.


Besides cooperating with farmers, Iskra Asia also hires other locals to work in the cooperation zone. The employees learn a lot about large-scale farming and professional operations in the greenhouse.


In August last year, China's commerce and finance ministries named Iskra Asia as the country's foreign economic and trade cooperation zone. At the meantime, the Kyrgyz government pledged a wide range of preferential policies to the endeavor.


"Let's work side by side with the Chinese people," Kalimovich said. He said he hopes Iskra Asia develop better and welcomes more Chinese companies to invest in his oblast.


Depite being a busy farmer, Kalimovich had been to China four times. Mostly travelling around the country's western region, he said he wants to go to big cities like Guangzhou and Shanghai by high-speed railway next time.


The Kyrgyz farmer had given his sons 3,000 U.S. dollars to tour China. They went to Urumqi, capital city of China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region bordering Kyrgyzstan.


In January, it began to snow in Iskra town. Kalimovich drove his sons to their cornfield. Standing by the snow-covered field, the men discussed their farming plans for the next year.


"I want to talk to Iskra Asia about our future cooperation," Kalimovich said. "If the talk goes well, I would expand my land to 100 hectares."