By the Blouin News Business staff

China eyes agrobiz deals in Russia’s Far East

by in Asia-Pacific.

Russian Far East. Source: a_kiricenko/flickr

A stretch of the Russian Far East. (Source: a_kiricenko/flickr)

Beijing is encouraging more enterprises to invest in agriculture in Russia’s Far East, Chinese Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu said on Monday. He noted that investment of enterprises from Heilongjiang Province, which borders Russia, has yielded handsome returns. Han said he expects more Sino-Russo cooperation in agricultural research and development as well as professional training.

Since Russia’s economy is largely western-facing, an upswing in demand from growing Asian markets is a lifeline for this remote, underdeveloped region. The Far East is two-thirds the size of the U.S. but has only 6.3 million people and vast swathes of unfarmed fertile land.

Blouin News previously covered the coming economic boon in Russia’s Far East, via a ten year plan with special incentives for investment. A network of 15 agricultural wholesale distribution centers is being set up, and the region aims to increase gross production of agricultural and food products 150% by 2018.

Meanwhile, China’s ability to feed its huge population is being diminished by land degradation, urbanization, and climate change. So, in a natural fit, Chinese firms already lease or control at least 2,300 square miles of land in the Far East — with Moscow’s approval. “We are interested in attracting Chinese investment into agrarian projects in Siberia and the Far East. In turn, as the world’s largest country with the biggest reserves of arable land we can supply China with food products, especially agricultural products,” said Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev in 2014. (The Russia-China Investment Fund is a major investor in joint projects in the region.)

Unused arable land not far from the mega cities of East Asia means that interest in Russia’s Far East will keep growing, as will the harvests.