21 September 2017

Cameroon: Market Gardening - China Transforms Gobi Desert Into National Breadbasket

The use of advanced technology in greenhouses has significantly improved the efficiency of vegetable production.

The Zongzhai Gobi Desert Agricultural Industrial Park in Suzhou District near Jiuquan City in China's northwestern Gansu Province is testimony to how much the people have overcome environmental and climatic challenges to turn their area into a nationally-acknowledged breadbasket. The demonstration centre is today an agricultural marvel that uses soil-less cultivation and drip irrigation technologies to produce 27 crop types; some three times a year.

The demonstration centre covers 233.3 hectares, consisting of over 1,000 greenhouses. With annual crop yields of 100,000 kg for large greenhouses and revenue of 100,000 RMB (8.3 million FCFA) a year for such areas of cultivation, the park is renowned for its efficiency, high quality products and productivity.

Conducting 42 African, South Asian and Southeast Asian journalists round the site on September 17, 2017, Li Cheng Ping, the Communist Party of China Secretary for Zongzhai County, said the project was launched in 2009 at the cost of 2 million RMB (168 million FCFA). The excited and impressed journalists listened attentively as Li Cheng Ping explained how and why such a farming method was adopted in the stony Gobi Desert, which has almost the same ecology and climate like most of Gansu Province.

Three main crop types - vegetables, fruits and fungus or mushrooms - are cultivated in the Zongzhai Gobi Desert Agricultural Industrial Park. The vegetables and fruits grown in greenhouses include tomatoes, cucumber, peaches, grapes, small tomatoes, etc. The park is designed to cover 666.7 hectares costing 102 million RMB (8.5 billion FCFA), the local CPC official explained. Meanwhile, roads, power and water have been provided and 1,032 high-standard solar greenhouses constructed, offering a pollution-free vegetable production base of about 233.3 hectares.

Li Cheng Ping recalled that the park was constructed using 17 advanced practical technologies. These include organic ecological soil-less cultivation, hole tray seedling matrix, drone pollination, fertigation, use of smart gathering vehicles and intelligent greenhouse control system. Crop rotation is carried out scientifically, ensuring continual production all-year-round. As a result, the annual revenue for each greenhouse is at least 30,000 RMB (about 2.5 million FCFA), nearly 30 per cent higher than in average greenhouses elsewhere in China.

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