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Agriculture cooperation rooted in shared experience

By Chen Bowen in Sanya, Hainan Source: China Daily Updated: 2024-06-19


The workshop on China-Africa Agricultural Science and Technology Cooperation is held in Sanya, South China's Hainan province on June 12, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

Agricultural science and technology cooperation between China and Africa is steadily gaining momentum, promising mutual benefits, participants said at a recent event held in Sanya, in South China's Hainan province.

The workshop on China-Africa Agricultural Science and Technology Cooperation, under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's South-South and Triangular Cooperation Framework, aimed to bolster agricultural technology cooperation and facilitate the modernization of agriculture across Africa.

"Science and technology play a fundamental role in transforming agriculture and enhancing food security. Africa, with its vast potential for innovation, can benefit from adopting advanced agricultural technologies," said Sun Tan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

He added that China's technological advances and experiences can serve as references for African countries seeking to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability.

Sun said small-scale farming is common in both China and many African countries. This makes China's experiences and technologies, accumulated during its transition from traditional to modern agriculture, particularly relevant for Africa.

The academy cooperates with 23 African countries and nine international organizations. It has distributed more than 1,000 green super rice materials to nine African countries, covering an area of 57,000 hectares, exceeding local varieties' productivity by over 20 percent. More than 30,000 farmers have benefited from such materials.

It has also assisted Rwanda in building an integrated underground pest control system to save the country's potato industry and helped develop an H5 bird flu vaccine for Egypt to prevent the spread of the disease among poultry.

By helping to build biogas facilities and conduct technology demonstrations in countries such as Tanzania, Mauritania and Angola, the academy has supported the adoption of renewable energy sources and promoted resource efficiency in agricultural production.

As a leading institution in educating African students in agriculture, the academy has trained 276 students from African countries. It plans to enroll African students in the National Nanfan Breeding Research Center in the Sanya Yazhou Bay Science And Technology City, with a specific focus on scientific and technological innovation in the seed industry. The plan aims to double the number of international students, particularly from Africa, within the next five years, Sun said.

Felix Dapare Dakora, former president of the African Academy of Sciences and a foreign academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, emphasized the importance of ensuring that African populations have access to an adequate supply of food and quality nutrition. Drawing parallels, he noted that China faced similar challenges in the 1950s and 60s. Despite the country only having 9 percent of global agricultural land, it managed to account for 20 percent of global food supply.

"Rather than looking to other regions with different contexts, it would be more beneficial for African nations to glean insights and experience from China's journey, given the shared historical challenges and the success China has achieved," Dakora said.

He said seed breeding in Hainan will play a crucial role in facilitating the exchange of high-quality seeds between China and Africa, and that the tropical province is a key player in sharing its expertise and resources with the world's tropical regions, including Africa.

Dakora added that he thought the Hainan Free Trade Port was a vital link with the African Continental Free Trade Area in Ghana, fostering exchanges of biological materials and enhancing food security measures between China and Africa.

Takele Weldu Gebrewahid, a postdoctoral researcher from Ethiopia specializing in crop science, now works in the academy's engineering team focused on big data and intelligent design in breeding innovation. He said that his home country has yet to harness the potential of intelligent technologies in agriculture, and he hopes to acquire knowledge and skills in utilizing cutting-edge approaches to benefit Ethiopia.