Cooperation with Thailand sweetens Guangxi sugar industry
With sugar cane harvesting and crushing season in early December drawing near, Huang Yongjun has recently been checking the growth of his sugar cane more frequently.
The 41-year-old sugar cane grower in Buli Village under the city of Chongzuo, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was pleased to see his cane much taller than cane in neighboring fields -- thanks to the more advanced pest control measures he employs.
"The company provided me with fine seedlings and technologies," said Huang, who has been planting sugar cane for more than 20 years. His sugar cane field is over 50 mu (about 3.33 hectares) in size.
The company Huang mentioned is Guangxi Nanning East Asia Sugar Group, a Sino-Thai joint venture. Huang earns around 100,000 yuan (about 14,034 U.S. dollars) by selling sugar cane to this company every year.
The subtropical Guangxi enjoys a humid and hot monsoon climate that suits sugar cane cultivation. The region's sugar cane output accounts for more than 60 percent of the country's total.
Chongzuo, where Huang lives, is dubbed "the capital of sugar" in China. The city has about 1.2 million sugar cane growers and their total income exceeded 10 billion yuan in the most recent harvesting season.
In 1993, five state-owned sugar companies in Chongzuo and Thailand's leading sugar producer Mitr Phol established the joint venture. In September 2017, the company moved to a China-Thailand Industrial Park in Chongzuo and invested over 2.7 billion yuan in a comprehensive sugar utilization project.
According to Li Zhang, vice president of public relations at the company, their business involves sugar production, bio-energy, fertilizer, yeast and feed.
"The cane not only produces sugar, but also lots of side products, forming a circular economy," said Huang Qinyong of the industrial park. He explained that bagasse can generate electricity or be used for paper making, filter mud can be made into fertilizer and waste sugar cane molasses can be processed into yeast products.
Relying on abundant local sugar cane resources, Angel Yeast, one of the leading companies in China's yeast industry, has been cooperating with local sugar companies to extend the sugar industry chain and improve the added value of sugar cane products.
"The company further processes sugar cane into dry yeast, fresh yeast and yeast extracts, and exports these to more than 100 countries and regions," said Liu Peidong, assistant general manager of the yeast company's Chongzuo branch.
This China-Thailand cooperation has not only sweetened the life of sugar cane growers, but also promoted exchanges between Chinese and ASEAN enterprises.
Thai coffee giant Cafe Amazon opened its first coffee shop in China in 2019 through cooperation with sugar enterprises in Guangxi, while an engineering and construction enterprise in Guangxi signed contracts with a number of sugar refinery projects in Thailand.
The Chongzuo park has also established friendly relations with several industrial parks in Thailand, becoming a successful model for deepening production capacity and economic and trade cooperation with ASEAN countries.