Sprinkle, sprinkle, little star

Updated: 2011-10-28 09:29

By Meng Jing (China Daily)

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"Comparing China with other countries, China is almost No 1 in everything. It is No 1 in producing potatoes and apples in the world. Despite the big agriculture and population, the water in China is very scarce. So we know at the beginning that China is a very big potential market for us," says Yacov Pedhatzur-Wiedhopf, managing director of NETAFIM Asia.

He says the largest markets for the Israel-headquartered company are the United States and India. China, on the other hand, ranks lower with only $10 million (7.2 million euros) in revenue generated from that country in 2010.

"But for agriculture irrigation producers, there is no doubt that Asia is the future and China is the future of Asia," he says.

Pedhatzur-Wiedhopf says that government support has played a significant role in developing a water-efficient irrigation industry. In 2008, the Chinese government offered 30-percent subsidies for farmers who bought modernized agriculture machinery.

"The Indian government offers farmers big subsidies, like 70 percent of the cost of the irrigation systems. So the market in India grew very quickly, jumping from $2 million in 2002 to $100 million in 2010," he says. With the 4-trillion-yuan investment, he says China will take a giant leap in the development of water-saving irrigation solutions and expects the company's revenue from China to reach $50 million by 2015.

Apart from water conservation, modern irrigation systems can also help protect food security in China by increasing grain yields by 6,000-9,000 kilograms a hectare, statistics from the Ministry of Water Resources show.

By 2050 there will be over 9 billion people on Earth. With growing pressure for limited water resources, it is critical that modern and efficient irrigation be adopted to meet future demand, says Todd King, president of John Deere Water China, established in Beijing in 2008.

"The largest agricultural irrigation markets for us are in North America. However, China is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. It is expected that China's market will be one of the largest in the coming years," King says.

Companies in agriculture irrigation clearly want to seize the blossoming business opportunities that China has offered. A climbing amount of investment has been pouring in to increase the production capacities of water-saving irrigation equipments.

Statistics from the China Association of Water Enterprises show that a surging number of production lines for drip irrigation systems have begun operations in China since the second half of 2010.