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German firms find business opportunities in Ningxia's fertile land

Xinhua Updated: 2023-03-21
Zhang Cuiyan (center), owner of an agricultural company in Zhongwei, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, harvests apples with local farmers.

YINCHUAN -- After a visit to northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, members of a German delegation were visibly impressed with what the region's fertile land has to offer.

"We had the chance to taste the Ningxia food, and had great wine and Goji berries," said Friederike Doerfler, Agriculture and Food Counsellor of the German Embassy in China, referring to the local specialties. "All of us will bring those memories back to Beijing or wherever we go."

The 15-member delegation, including representatives of the German Agricultural Society, known as DLG, and the country's various agricultural firms, paid a four-day visit to Ningxia earlier this month, seeking more business opportunities in areas such as agricultural machinery, livestock breeding and winemaking.

Located in the Yellow River basin, Ningxia has a long farming history and boasts fine irrigation conditions. It is a producer of high-quality wine, Goji berries, milk, beef, mutton, and organic vegetables.

"Having visited the high-standard farmland construction and the development of animal husbandry in the region, I saw some similarities between Ningxia and Germany in developing modern agriculture, which makes it possible for future cooperation," said Leely Zhang, managing director of DLG.

In fact, advanced German agricultural machinery and equipment have already been widely used in the production of high-quality grain, vegetables and fruits, pasture and forestry in Ningxia.

"About 80 percent of our agricultural machines were imported from Germany," said Wang Wei, general manager of an agricultural company in Ningxia's Ningwu City that sells about 14 tonnes of forage each year and owns two standardized breeding bases with over 2,200 beef cattle.

Wang expressed hopes that German manufacturers could invest and build factories in Ningxia so that local farmers can benefit from advanced agricultural machines at a lower cost.

A large part of the machinery Wang's company uses was manufactured by CLAAS, a world-famous farm-machinery maker based in Germany.

"We always regard China as the most potential market," said Zhang Jinwang, general manager of CLAAS China, who has visited Ningxia four times.

In recent years, exchange and cooperation between Ningxia and Germany have prospered in various fields. In 2022, Ningxia and Germany recorded 1.94 billion yuan (about $281 million) in imports and exports, up 134.4 percent year on year.

German enterprises have invested in 13 companies in Ningxia involving the manufacturing of bearings and the lithium-ion battery industry, said Fan Huafeng, deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Office of Ningxia's regional Party committee, adding that modern agriculture has emerged as a new area of cooperation between the two sides.

Hua Zhimin, director of Ningxia's agriculture and rural affairs department, expressed hopes that cooperation between Ningxia and Germany could be further strengthened in agricultural technology, machinery and equipment, smart agriculture and personnel training.

"We will do our utmost to provide sound services and support to promote win-win development," said Hua.

In response, Doerfler said, "We offer high-quality machinery and you can use it for producing high-quality products." "I think it's a win-win combination."