China Focus: China, Thailand enhance seed cooperation to boost farmer incomes
NANNING/BANGKOK, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Despite the thick fog and drizzle, Liang Zongwu, a 48-year-old farmer, hurried to his farmland with a couple of fellow villagers early in the morning to harvest the Srimuang pumpkins, a type of pumpkin from Thailand.
"This type of pumpkin is sweet and of good taste. Besides, it grows fast with high yield," said Liang, whose land is in a suburb of Nanning, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Each mu (about 0.07 hectares) of this pumpkin can bring in an income of over 5,000 yuan (about 727 U.S. dollars), Liang noted, adding that his 4.7 hectares of pumpkins serve as the main source of income for his family.
Nearly 30 km away from this pumpkin field, fruit and vegetable varieties from Thailand, including bitter gourd, sweetcorn, watermelon and cucumber, are growing vigorously at a plantation base operated by Nanning Wanda Agricultural Company, a local crop seed dealer.
"We started cooperation with Thailand's Chia Tai Group in 2007. The planting base in Nanning is mainly for the display and seed breeding of pumpkin, corn and leafy vegetable varieties," said Liu Chaohong, general manager of Nanning Wanda.
He said fruit and vegetable varieties from Thailand have strong disease resistance and heat tolerance and can help Chinese farmers to improve both yield and income.
In central Thailand's Nakhon Pathom, thousands of miles away from China's Guangxi, red chili peppers hang on branches at a 10-hectare demonstration plantation built by Nanning Wanda.
"The agricultural seed cooperation between China and Thailand is mutually beneficial, and our base in Thailand also introduces fruit and vegetable varieties from China, which will be promoted to Thai farmers after successful breeding," said Liu.
Thailand's sweetcorn has high sweetness and China's glutinous corn has good taste. More farmers will benefit from the advantages of the two varieties, according to Liu.
In recent years, China-Thailand economic and trade relations have become closer. Statistics show that China is Thailand's largest trading partner and largest export market for agricultural products.
In 2022, trade volume between the two countries reached 135 billion U.S. dollars, up 3 percent year on year, and Thai agricultural exports to China reached 12.6 billion dollars, up 6 percent over the previous year, according to the Chinese Embassy in Thailand.
"We are developing new vegetable varieties that are more suitable to grow in China based on imported Thai varieties. Thai crops have good resistance to rain and heat, making them particularly suitable for south China," said Ji Peifeng, production manager of an agricultural subsidiary of Chia Tai Group.
The company, located in Kunming, capital city of southwest China's Yunnan Province, also provides technical services and support to seed dealers of Chia Tai across China, according to Ji.
"Cooperation in seed development between the two countries is complementary. For example, for the cultivation of cruciferous vegetables, a low-temperature vernalization stage is required. However, research on such varieties is difficult in Thailand due to the high temperatures there," Ji said, adding that setting up a research and development base in Kunming, a city with one of the mildest climates in China, has effectively solved the problem.
Moreover, varieties jointly developed by the two sides have been well received by the market, resulting in higher profits for farmers.
Thailand and China have been expanding cooperation in various areas under the Belt and Road Initiative. China's growing consumer market has driven up the income of Thai exporters, especially those exporting Thai fruits and other agricultural products, which are increasingly favored by Chinese consumers, according to Arthayudh Srisamoot, Thailand's Ambassador to China.