Huang Yao, a salesman of a seed company in east China's Jiangsu Province, has had to cancel his scheduled flight to Pakistan on Friday due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Huang works for Jiangsu Hongqi Seed Industry Co., Ltd., an enterprise engaged in wholesale and retail of crop seeds. His company reached an agreement with the Pakistani side to ship 500 tonnes of hybrid rice seeds after the Spring Festival.
However, affected by the epidemic, the seeds could not be processed and packaged as planned.
Thanks to the help of the customs of the city of Taizhou, which opened a green channel and streamlined the process, the seeds were finally loaded on a ship and departed for Pakistan at the end of February.
"If these seeds couldn't be delivered to our customers in time, our business and reputation could be damaged, while the local grain yield in Pakistan could also be affected," said Zha Lianqun, general manager of the company.
After a weeks-long journey, the seeds recently arrived in Rahim Yar Khan, a city in Punjab Province. By convention, Huang, who is in charge of the business with Pakistani partners, needs to follow the seeds to their destination, and monitor seed quality and provide training for local farmers.
The 32-year-old has visited Pakistan three times a year since 2017, and spends two to three months there each time. During his stay, Huang took part in sowing seeds, breeding seedlings and applying fertilizer with local farmers, sharing experience and giving them guidance. He also traveled to inspect the output during the harvest season and collected feedback from local farmers.
"I can't fly to Pakistan at the moment, but my colleagues and I delivered a batch of masks to our partners in the city of Rahim Yar Khan," said Huang, adding that although he is in China, he still worries about Pakistani farmers and friends who also face the risk of being infected by the deadly virus.
In addition, Pakistan has struggled to combat locust plagues which have destroyed crops and threatened the livelihoods of farmers since the end of last year. "This batch of seeds aims to help ensure the grain yield of Pakistan this year," Zha said.
China and Pakistan have seen closer cooperation in agriculture in recent years since the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative in 2015. China's seed products have become very popular with Pakistani buyers.
Huang's company obtained an order of 100 tonnes of hybrid rice seeds from Pakistan in 2017 and expects the export volume will exceed 1,000 tonnes in 2021.
"We hope our seeds can take root in Pakistan and contribute to the food supply and security there," Huang added.