– On a muggy afternoon, Charles Ngendakumana, a farmer in Burundi‘s northwest province of Bubanza, was busy adding a handful of grass to the cattle watering hole in the backyard of his newly built rural house, a spacious one-bedroom bungalow. single storey with freshly painted lime walls. .
Around him, about a dozen chickens were running. Pointing to them, she said that these chickens had been given to his family by Chinese agricultural experts. “They also provided me with good rice seeds and fertilizers and taught me planting techniques so that I have enough food to feed my children,” added the 43-year-old father of six.
Four years ago, Ngendakumana began cultivating hybrid rice introduced from China under the guidance of Chinese agricultural experts. Since then, his farmland has also increased from half a hectare to five hectares in Ninga, a village in Gihanga commune.
“Then I want to buy more land, more cows, as well as several new water pumps when the dry season comes,” said Ngendakumana in a recent interview with him, assuring that this was “unthinkable” in the days before the arrival of the Teams. from Chinese experts when I couldn’t even get enough food.
Known as the “heart of Africa”, the East African country Burundi has a tropical climate with abundant rainfall. Its natural conditions are favorable for rice production, but the low yield of local rice production causes Burundians to suffer from food shortages for a long time.
To tackle such a challenge, China has been implementing technical cooperation programs in Burundi since August 2009, sending a total of 45 experts to the African country in five batches to help develop agriculture.
Chinese experts are currently planting hybrid rice in 22 villages across the country in an effort to help make Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye‘s slogan a reality: “Every mouth has food and every pocket money.”
The experts visited fields in the country’s 14 rice-producing provinces to conduct research and trials, and successfully selected and introduced eight varieties of rice seed adapted to local conditions. In this way, they have helped to effectively address the problem of yield reduction or even extinction caused by rice blight in the highland areas of Burundi.
Chinese experts also helped establish the first poverty-alleviating rice cultivation demonstration village in Ninga village, where hybrid rice was grown for five consecutive seasons. Since hybrid rice was planted here, the village has increased its rice production by 1,661 tonnes, which has translated into better income for local households.
“Our hybrid rice yields are double that of local varieties,” Chinese expert Jiang Daiming said. “Rice yields here used to be only two to three tons per hectare, while introduced disease-resistant varieties can produce four to five tons per hectare, sometimes even seven tons.”
“It will be important to improve the local rice harvest (yield) if production can expand in the future,” Jiang said.
To help Burundi build an independent and sustainable rice industry, Chinese experts also conducted 82 training sessions in the country, training 3,050 people. Among them are dozens of bright young Burundians who are using the skills they have learned to help lift villagers out of poverty across the country.
Ernest Irankunda, a young man from Ninga, gave up the opportunity to attend university due to the burden of his family and decided to learn rice farming techniques from Chinese experts. He has now become a local expert on rice cultivation and was recently hired by the government to lead a team to share agricultural experiences in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Agricultural cooperation with a view to reducing rural poverty in Africa has been an important area of China-Africa cooperation in recent years. During the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held a year ago in Senegal, China announced that it will implement the poverty reduction and agricultural development program with Africa for the next three years.
As part of the program, China will send 500 agricultural experts to Africa, establish a series of joint centers for the exchange, demonstration and training of modern agrotechnology in China, and encourage Chinese institutions and enterprises to build demonstration villages in Africa that support the agricultural development and poverty reduction.
In October, such a village was inaugurated in Matangi Tisa village in Nakuru County in Kenya. The county’s chief agriculture official, Fredrick Owino, welcomed the initiative, saying the project will promote China’s advanced agricultural technologies in Kenya to boost agricultural production and reduce poverty.
Also last month, a Demonstration Village for China-Africa Agricultural Development and Poverty Reduction was established at Shimwengwe Village in Zambia‘s Lusaka province. Through the project, the villagers will be equipped with small-scale knowledge and technologies to improve their productivity, especially in the chicken farming business.
“We are very grateful for the work of the Chinese expert teams,” said Prosper Dodiko, permanent secretary of Burundi’s Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, adding that in addition to hybrid rice, the Chinese experts also introduced apple trees and They promoted poultry farming, aquaculture, and rice and fish farming. “Next year, Burundi’s agricultural development is ready to enter another stage, where we will develop irrigation systems and farm mechanization. I am glad that Chinese experts are here to help us.” ■