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Planting seeds to cultivate culture


The Kyrgyz pavilion at the Beijing Horticulture Expo offers insights into not only the Central Asian country's endemic flora but also its people.

China DailyUpdated: May 21, 2019

The Kyrgyz pavilion at the Beijing Horticulture Expo offers insights into not only the Central Asian country's endemic flora but also its people.

Kyrgyz and Chinese government officials and Kyrgyz students pose for a picture in front of the Kyrgyz pavilion at the Beijing Horticulture Expo in late April. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A deer totem is painted on a yellow gravel road that leads to the Kyrgyz pavilion at the Beijing Horticulture Expo.

The pavilion is one of the many that presents the latest achievements in floriculture and farming from more than 100 countries and organizations at the 162-day expo, which kicked off at the foot of the Great Wall in northwest Beijing's Yanqing district on April 29.

"In our culture, a deer symbolizes harmony between people and nature," says Azat Erkebaev, a senior official from the Kyrgyz Agriculture Ministry.

Two stone sculptures symbolizing the Kyrgyz people's remembrances and tributes to their historical figures stand on both sides of the road, symbolizing the Silk Road that ran from China to Europe through Kyrgyzstan.

It's worth noting that Beijing hosted the high-level Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation just before the expo.

The Kyrgyz pavilion covers an area of more than 1,000 square meters, including a garden and two rooms built like yurts, which are traditional Kyrgyz tent dwellings.

The picturesque garden hosts over 60 varieties of polychromatic flowers endemic to Kyrgyzstan.

The larger yurt presents products from Kyrgyzstan. The smaller one showcases Kyrgyz food and cuisine.

"We tried to include as many Kyrgyz elements as possible in the pavilion's design," says Erkebaev, who has been in charge of the pavilion's operations from the beginning.

"The Chinese side has given us a lot of help in transportation and coordination."

All materials were purchased in, and transported from, Kyrgyzstan. The decorations and their designs were completed by Kyrgyz artists, Erkebaev says.

"We noticed the climate difference between the expo environment and Kyrgyzstan's, and made adjustments in construction and decoration materials," he says.

The pavilion features environmentally friendly lighting, heat and waterproofing.

The country has also brought over 800 products belonging to 17 categories to the expo.

Kyrgyzstan hopes to showcase its distinctive organic plateau food and landscapes, Erkebaev says.

The country is known for its pristine environment and quality agriculture.

It produces honey, breads, mineral water, natural juices and wines.

"It's the first time for Kyrgyzstan to bring so many farm products to China at an expo, and our ultimate purpose is to help local enterprises and farmers bring natural and quality products to the Chinese market," Erkebaev says.

"The expo is a great platform to show our green and organic products before the Chinese people. Our President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, who opened the pavilion, highlighted the importance of the expo for the promotion of Kyrgyz natural goods."

The pavilion will host more activities to show what the country offers.

"Aug 31 marks our independence day, and we will try to invite our artists to give cultural performances at the expo," Erkebaev says.

Plans call for a forum promoting bilateral tourism and business ties to be held soon.

Erkebaev says the expo has publicized green development, and boosted cultural exchanges and integration among different countries.

"It's of great significance to raise public awareness of ecological protection, urge the public to engage in green lifestyles and educate the next generation," he says.

The expo's international exhibition area has impressed Erkebaev.

"I've come to better understand various customs and practices through visiting exhibitions of other countries and talking to their people," he says.

"More importantly, our Agriculture Ministry and I could learn modern agricultural technology, such as advanced greenhouse systems and water-saving irrigation, which is what Kyrgyzstan needs the most in farming at the moment."

Erkebaev often tours other pavilions to learn exhibition design to best present his country's agricultural products.

Over 10,000 people visited the Kyrgyz pavilion during the recent May Day holiday, Erkebaev says.

"It is the first time for many of those tourists to see our yurt, and they are amazed by the interior layout and decorations," Erkebaev says.

"They've also shown great interest in our honey, flour and wine."

Erkebaev studied at Peking University, starting in 1999, and deeply respects China.

"I hope all exhibitioners and visitors could see a Beijing with a blue sky and more green trees through the expo."

He also looks forward to the benefits the Belt and Road Initiative will bring to people in the involved countries.