16 October 2017

Africa: Interview - Tech Transfer Key to China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation: FAO Official

Accra — Consistent technical support has been a major factor in the hugely successful China-African cooperation on agriculture, an official with theUnited NationsFood and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said.

Speaking exclusively with Xinhua, Peter Anaadumba, Program Officer for South-South Cooperation at the Africa Regional Office of FAO, pointed out that through the technological innovation provided by China, African countries have been able to multiply yields in specific staples and livestock.

"If you look at the last three decades, cooperation between China and Africa has increased significantly and has contributed a lot to agriculture development," Anaadumba said.

He highlighted the role of technology in such programs, saying: "I think the most successful aspect over the last decade has been China's introduction of small mechanization tools to support agriculture in Africa."

He mentioned some of the mini mechanization tools as small transplanters, small harvesters, small and processing machines, which have been made available for African countries.

In Liberia, Anaadumba lauded China for how its artificial insemination technology enabled exponential growth in yields of pigs, and in Nigeria where about 500 technical assistance personnel were deployed, for a significant increased yields in rice and fish production.

Through its collaboration with FAO, China has, deployed since the inception of the South-South Cooperation on agriculture, more than 1,000 technical experts and technicians, and the continent benefits from over 70 percent of the initial 30 million U.S. dollar and the top-up of 50 million dollars Trust Fund set up by China for the South-South Cooperation projects across the world.

"The number keeps increasing. Last month we fielded 13 Chinese cooperants in DR Congo, based in Lubumbashi. We have other projects that Chinese cooperants are assisting in and this new project that we are developing tells us that the number of Chinese cooperants to these countries will only increase because there is more requests coming," he added.

"If you want to feed a hungry man you don't give him the fish, but you have to teach him how to fish," he said, citing a Chinese proverb. "The most tremendous contribution is capacity building."

Anaadumba said people will by training understand that they can improve upon their yield. In water management for example, due to China's age-old prudent water management practices, it is a technique that African farmers can apply for maximum returns, he said.

The benefits of this cooperation, the programs officer said, are diverse, including creating the right environment for private-sector investment in the African countries.

"So you look at Uganda where we had a project of about 1.5 million dollars and now there have been other provinces in China that came in to have a bilateral cooperation to have an industrial park. And this project is around 225 million dollars. So you see this cooperation is also bringing in the private sector."

He continued: "Once you have the private sector in an economy, it is definitely going to create employment, it's definitely going to boost exportation of the country's own production. So in a way it is beneficiary to both because China will be importing, and Africa will be exporting."

Through the China-Africa Cooperation, Anaadumba said China has been giving the opportunity to African countries to be able to produce and meet international import expectations, but then it also creates a win-win situation for both sides.

"So for me, the benefit is a win-win situation for both countries. It's not about one country only taking and not giving. I have seen it from both ends," he emphasized.

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