Zhejiang firm to help agriculture in eastern Russia

Updated: 2015-06-10 05:46

By ZHONG NAN in Beijing and YAN YIQI in Hangzhou(China Daily)

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A company from Zhejiang province has obtained a 49-year land lease from Russia to develop modern agriculture and livestock industries on 115,000 hectares of uncultivated land.

The deal was sealed between a newly founded subsidiary of Zoje Resources Investment and Russia's Transbaikal regional government on Tuesday. The total contract value is 176 million yuan ($28.4 million)

The pillar business of Zoje Resources is industrial sewing machine manufacturing. It is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The media office of Zoje Resources said in a statement that the move is in response to the Chinese government's call for development in countries along the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives were put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013 with the purpose of rejuvenating the two ancient trading routes.

The Chinese company will use 50,000 undeveloped hectares of grazing land and 65,000 hectares of uncultivated land to grow vegetables, wheat and other agricultural products. It will also develop animal husbandry in four areas of the Transbaikal region, a mountainous region east of Lake Baikal.

The Transbaikal regional government will offer another 85,000 hectares of undeveloped land to the subsidiary of Zoje Resources after everything is completed.

"This is also helpful to shift the company's core business from machinery manufacturing to agriculture," the statement read.

Ding Lixin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said that the Far Eastern region has abundant water resources and rich soil that are quite suitable for developing agriculture.

"Chinese investment and expertise will not only be used in agricultural projects, but also help the eastern part of Russia further connect to potential market destinations," Ding said.

With the majority of the Russian population living in the western part of the country, Russia has been contemplating steps to increase foreign investment, especially in its less-developed eastern part.

Zhao Ying, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that even though this shift is in an early stage, it could have meaningful business implications, since it comes at a critical time when a group of developed nations is hostile to Russia because of political disputes.

Contact the writer at zhongnan@chinadaily.com.cn