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A Global Model of Water-Efficient Irrigation
Shihezi City of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is among the world leaders in water-efficiency technology through drip irrigation, with the largest application area, the lowest price of related products, and the strongest productive power. After a recent on-the-spot investigation, the Research Office of the State Council contended that the drip irrigation in Shihezi compares well with that in Israel, and, in fact, Shihezi has exceeded Israel in some aspects.

Shihezi City kicked off the experiment of under-membrane field-crops land drip irrigation in a small area in 1996. In 1999, the state-level agricultural comprehensive development project -- “Hi-tech Demonstration Zone for Drip Irrigation in Ten Thousand Mu Drought Area” was launched. In 2001, the technology was extended to 460,000 mu (76,838 acres) of land, and the area now totals 800,000 mu (133,631 acres), placing it first in the world in terms of scale of technological application.

The major reason why the drip irrigation technology couldn’t be extended widely in China in the past was its high cost. From 1996, backed by the Tianye Group, Shihezi introduced the world most advanced technology and equipment, and spared no effort to develop qualified and lower-cost water-efficiency irrigation implements. After several years of endeavor, the initial one-off cost of appliances of the under-membrane drip irrigation adopted in about 1 million mu (167,039 acres) of cotton fields in Shihezi has decreased to 550 yuan per mu, making it the lowest price in the world for highly effective water-efficiency appliances.

To break the overseas monopoly of drip irrigation technology, Shihezi City, together with Tianye Group went all out to launch the independent intellectual property rights. Now, the set of products, manufacturing equipment and relevant technologies relating to the drip irrigation adopted in Shihezi City are all Chinese-made. The annual productive power of the 200 drip irrigation belt production lines in Tianye Group can meet the requirement of 3 million mu (500,000 acres) land, and the group has become the world’s largest supplier of drip irrigation equipment and products.

(china.org.cn by Zhang Tingting, August 19, 2002)

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