26 May 2014

Mozambique: Chinese Agricultural Technology Thrives in Mozambique

Maputo — Early in the morning, Rudy Manuel accompanies his father to the farm of their Chinese agricultural partner to sell the rice produced in his father's land.

Late May is the end of the rice harvesting season in Mozambique. Rudy's family has 42 hectares of farm land in the Xai-Xai district of Gaza province in southern Mozambique, where they began working with a Chinese private enterprise, China Wanbao Co., Ltd., in 2011, to receive a full set of agricultural machinery services provided by the company, and sell back the harvest in an agreement price.

In front of a grain silo with the capacity of 10,000 tons, conveyor carries the grains into the cleaning machine which removes the debris, and then another conveyor picks up the grains into the barn.

Despite big noises and dusty air, Rudy went close to the machines and took photos constantly with his cellphone.

Asked about the reasons, Rudy's eyes lighted up, telling Xinhua through the noise that, "this kind of thing is spectacular!"

Rudy said that before the cooperation with Wanbao, the farm harvests of his family can only reach a maximum of about 3 tons per hectare, with poor sales. In 2011, the family's income was so low that they almost loses their house, cars and other properties to cover the bank loans.

After the deal with Wanbao, things have been greatly changed, Rudy continued, saying that "large-scale agricultural machinery came to our land, this secures the plantation and harvest, and we also no longer need to worry about the sales, Without their help, things could be much more difficult."

Years of thorough field inspections gave Chinese specialists first hand data about local farming conditions, and Wanbao carried on the works via cooperation with the source of the techniques, a local agricultural technology demonstration center founded years ago by the governments of the two countries, together with the support of China Development Bank and China-Africa Development Fund.

The Gaza province offered the company 20,000 hectares of land, and signed a development agreement with Wanbao for a large number of idle farm land and the surrounding areas.

In less than three years, the investment has reached nearly 200 million U.S. dollars, mainly in the construction of facilities and the purchase of a large number of machinery and equipment and land preparation, irrigation and electricity.

Luo Haoping, the technician in charge of Wanbao's farm, told Xinhua that the company adopts three forms of cooperation to help with the local development.

First, the company has set aside 70 hectares of land for the training project, which has now involved 68 local farmers to participate. Wanbao then deploys its technicians to deliver instructions on rice cultivation and provides the farmers with services of irrigation and other agricultural machines.

"If they reach our production standards, then they can apply for the demonstration phase," Luo said.

In the demonstration phase, each farmer will receive three to four hectares of land. With larger scale of plantation, the farmers could generate higher revenue.

Furthermore, Wanbao also provides seeds, fertilizers and agricultural machinery for farmers under contracts, and buys grains they produce after harvest.

Now, the local farmers could get a rice yield up to 400 kilograms per mu, increasing from the 100 kilograms before they join the training program. The cooperative farm production has also grown significantly, with the example of Rudy's family farm with a harvest of 4.8 tons of rice per hectare (an average yield of 320 kilograms per mu).

"Farming is not easy," Alexandrina Nhiacongue, one of the farmers participating the training told Xinhua, adding that, "the cooperation between the government and the Chinese enterprise works well since we could learn the advanced Chinese technology in agriculture from the technicians."

The Mozambican technician at the training spot, Nelson Mangate, who graduated from the best university in Mozambique last year, told Xinhua that Wanbao not only provided him with a good job opportunity while most Mozambican youths are facing high unemployment rate, but also a chance for him to learn the Chinese professional agricultural technologies and experience.

"The stimulation effect of China's technology in rice yield is obviously great," he added.

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