Alibaba invests in Chinese sturgeon-farming project

Published on
August 2, 2019

A town billing itself as “China’s Sturgeon Capital” is increasing production on the back of a state bank loan and a donation from China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba. 

The Agricultural Development Bank, a leading state-owned bank, has put CNY 47 million (USD 6.8 million, EUR 6.1 million) in financing a government-orchestrated project to increase sturgeon production in Heilongjiang Province, near the Russian border. 

The CNY 100 million (USD 14.5 million, EUR 13.1 million) project began placing 120,000 seedlings of the “Shi Shi” sturgeon variety into Songhua River in the region of Fuyuan, near Jiamusi, a city bordering Russia. Apart from the bank loan, the rest of the cash for the project originates from government and business sources, including e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The new project offers insight into how aquaculture projects are frequently delivered in China by an alliance of government, finance, and business interests  – a favorite business model of officials seeking to create economic opportunities in rural areas. China’s government has also sought to persuade individual farmers to coalesce into cooperatives linked to a major corporate buyer or investor, increasing the viability of their operation for potential lenders.

China Agriculture Development Bank is often a key development tool for the Chinese state and has lent to other similar projects, including a tilapia production center near in southwest China. Lately, China has sought to increase lending to the private sector through banks in order to revive the country’s sagging economic growth.

The investment is not the first of its type for Alibaba. In 2016, Alibaba donated CNY 6 million (USD 870,000, EUR 783,000) into a sturgeon-breeding project in northern China as part of a government poverty alleviation program. As part of the project, which aims to deliver 322,000 tons of sturgeon and 400,000 tons of river crab a year, a participating firm, Fuyuan City Sturgeon Breeding Co, donated CNY 540,000 (USD 78,300, EUR 70,500) towards “poverty alleviation works.”

Photo courtesy of Allmy/Shutterstock

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