Residents select vegetables at a supermarket in Fuyang, Anhui province. [Photo by Wang Biao/For China Daily]
China is enhancing agricultural cooperation with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, expecting to make a greater contribution to global agricultural development and economic growth.
"China will offer policy and financial support to food trade and infrastructure construction, aiming at encouraging Chinese grain enterprises to cooperate with BRI countries," said Zhang Wufeng, head of the State Grain and Reserves Administration, at a recent international food cooperation forum in Lanzhou in Northwest China's Gansu province.
During the forum, Gansu reached agreements with Azerbaijan and Belarus to import quality wheat from Belarus and export its potatoes and olive oil to Azerbaijan.
"Agricultural development is a common concern among the BRI countries," said Elsa Asadov, vice-president of Azerbaijan Agricultural Products Supply and Marketing Corp.
"We look forward to establishing a more effective partnership with China, hoping to export Azerbaijan organic food and bring in China's agricultural technology, investment and experience."
In ancient times, agricultural exchanges were active along the Silk Road, which had brought in crops including sesame and pomegranate to China and taken Chinese tea and silk to Central Asia.
Today, with most BRI countries working on reducing hunger, poverty and ensuring food security, agricultural cooperation is still a common expectation.
Zhang of SGRA noted that China has significantly improved its ability to ensure food security in recent years, being able to feed 20 percent of the world's population with 10 percent of cultivated land and 6 percent of fresh water in the world.
"There are still 37 countries in the world that still need food aid. BRI countries have complementary advantages and can promote food trade and cooperation," Zhang said.
According to a national action plan under the framework of the BRI released in 2017, provinces in western China will cooperate with Central Asia in grain, animal husbandry and cotton, while northern provinces will work with the Russian Far East on grain and vegetables, and southern provinces will grow grain and tropical cash crops in collaboration with Southeast and South Asian countries.
Cheng Guoqiang, a professor of Tongji University in Shanghai, said the new round of international agricultural cooperation would help improve integrated production capability in the BRI countries and regions.