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May 11, 2008

Chinese seed company to grow rice in Tanzania

Responding to the global food crisis and skyrocketing rice prices, a Chinese agricultural company is planning to fan out to Africa, where grain shortage contrasts with abundant land resources.

A seed company in the southwestern Chongqing municipality has decided to cultivate rice in Tanzania from 2009, according to a local newspaper. Chongqing Seed Corp, a seed researcher and producer, has chosen an area of 300 hectares in the central African country and will start growing rice there with its own intellectual property from next year, the Chongqing Evening News reported.

The report said the program in Tanzania is part of a larger plan between China and African countries chalked out at the China-Africa Summit in November 2006. According to this plan, China will establish 10 agricultural centers in Africa.

The report cited an official from the company as saying it plans to grow and process rice in Africa and then sell part of the grain in China. The company is also planning to develop a model in which it will provide seeds to local farmers. The company will then purchase the harvest, process and sell it.

The Chongqing company is experienced in overseas cultivation. It has been growing rice in Laos since 2005.

"The output of rice with seeds from our company is 400 to 500 kg per mu, while local seeds can only generate 150 to 200 kg," the report quoted the official from the company as saying.

Ni Hongxing, an official from the agriculture ministry, had earlier said China has attained sufficient technological strength in the agriculture industry and has many high-quality technical personnel and enterprises.

"We have gained enough expertise to spread out," Ni was quoted as saying.

China has worked with other countries in the agricultural sector before. A company in Heilongjiang has been growing rice in the Far East area of Russia since 2004. Its total plantation area reached 42,000 hectares by 2007.

Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai had earlier told the Xinhua News Agency that China would strengthen the cooperation with other countries in food and agriculture. The country has already sent nearly 1,000 agricultural experts to other developing countries, Sun said.

China Daily

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