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Tangible benefits

By YORO DIALLO | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-05-13 08:00
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China providing practical assistance to help African countries develop their agriculture and reduce poverty

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the African Union and the 22nd anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. The FOCAC has proven over the years to be an essential platform for promoting the partnership between China and African countries and an incomparable instrument for advancing the development of the African continent.

Over the past 20 years, the transformations in Africa and the continent's prospects for the future have ensured that Africa is no longer considered a peripheral region in terms of global geopolitics but a central one. The new centrality of Africa in terms of development has been achieved thanks to the excellent cooperation between China and the AU. The situation in Africa has improved remarkably in several aspects. Poverty has decreased notably in the past two decades, thanks in part to the remarkable development of Africa's agricultural sector, which is vitally linked to the qualitative contributions of China-Africa cooperation.

China has demonstrated its readiness to share its agricultural development experience and technology with African countries, and its engagement has helped African countries to improve their agricultural production and processing, and helped them build their agricultural value chains and boost trade. This is important for African countries as the African continent has the largest reserves of agricultural land in the world. Over 65 percent of the African workforce is employed in the agricultural sector. They are mostly unskilled workers without adequate training. In many African countries, the agricultural sector is not sufficiently professionalized to realize its potential for poverty reduction, food security and economic growth. Since 2012, 7,456 African trainees have received agricultural training in China. Through projects such as sending Chinese agricultural experts to Africa, more than 50,000 Africans have been trained and 23 agricultural demonstration centers have been built. China has established agricultural cooperation mechanisms with 23 African countries and regional organizations, and signed 72 bilateral and multilateral agricultural cooperation documents.

Since the establishment of the China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation Forum in 2019, the China-African Union Agricultural Cooperation Commission has made positive actions to promote China-Africa agricultural cooperation and agricultural modernization in Africa. By the end of 2020, more than 200 Chinese companies held a total of $1.11 billion investment in the agricultural sector in 35 African countries. Their investments cover areas such as planting, breeding and processing. Nowadays more than 350 types of African agricultural products are traded with China.

China has created a path of poverty reduction with Chinese characteristics, and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, which has served as a reference for addressing the poverty problem in Africa. China actively exchanges and cooperates with Africa on poverty reduction.

China has implemented the Program for Strengthening China-Africa Cooperation on Poverty Reduction, issued by China and the AU. With such mechanisms as the FOCAC Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development Conference, and the China-Africa Youth Exchange Program on Poverty Reduction and Development, China has supported local governments, academics, enterprises and non-governmental organizations in both China and Africa in carrying out various forms of pragmatic cooperation on poverty reduction. According to the white paper titled China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals released by China's State Council Information Office in November 2021, from 2005 to 2021, China held 160 training courses on poverty reduction and trained more than 2,700 people from 53 African countries, accounting for 58.6 percent of the total participants.

For Africa to realize the aspiration of the AU's Agenda 2063 of a peaceful, united and prosperous continent, Africa needs to invest in modern agriculture to increase production. In this regard, the China-Africa agricultural development programs aim to help African countries eliminate hunger and reduce poverty by promoting economic growth through agriculture-based development. The eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation 2021 produced important results including the Dakar Action Plan (2022-24). This is a roadmap with pragmatic programming. The scope of the Dakar Action Plan lies in nine major programs to be implemented over the coming years. Under the program for poverty reduction and agriculture development, 10 poverty reduction and agriculture projects that China will carry out for Africa, including the dispatch of hundreds of agronomists and the establishment of centers for exchanges and training on modern agricultural technologies, will contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the fight against poverty, hunger and for food sufficiency in Africa.

The China-AU partnership in the development of Africa's agriculture and the fight against poverty heralds a stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.

The author is a senior researcher and executive director of the Center for Francophone Studies at the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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