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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 11:05 GMT
China rents Kazak land for farmers
Around 3,000 Chinese farmers are expected to head west next year to start working the land in neighbouring Kazakhstan, according to Chinese newspaper reports.

An official in China's Xinjiang province, which borders Kazakhstan, said that a deal had been signed under which the Chinese would rent 70 square kilometres of farm land for 10 years.

The Chinese farmers are likely to arrive in Kazakhstan's Alakol county in the Spring to grow soya beans and wheat, and to breed animals.

Observers say China has been trying to allay world fears that, with its rapidly expanding population and economy, it is going to create huge demand for food and drain world supplies.

Earlier this week China's president Hu Jintao said, during a tour of rural areas, that it was essential to raise farmers' incomes and develop agriculture, in order to preserve a strong economy and preserve social stability.

He urged officials to work on ways to improve investment in farming and boost job opportunities for labourers.

Most of the farmers heading for Kazakhstan will be coming from Xinjiang's Yili Kazak prefecture, which has a surplus rural work force.

By contrast, the area across the border is sparsely populated and has been largely deserted since the 1990s.

The deal between China and its former Soviet neighbour is the latest indication of a growing relationship between the two countries.

President Hu visited Kazakhstan in June and both are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which deals with Central Asian issues.

According to the state-run People's Daily newspaper, trade between the two has risen by almost 80 % over the last year.

China's output surges in November
10 Dec 03  |  Business
Country profile: China
13 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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