Business / Industries

A touch of class for farming

By Joseph Catanzaro and Li Fangchao (China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-21 07:15

A touch of class for farming

Long Ping High-Tech Agriculture Co has initiated a series of training programs across Africa. ZHANG WEI/CHINA DAILY

Hunan firm plans agricultural education push in Cameroon

A Chinese program through which thousands of Africans have learned modern farming techniques will be expanded into Cameroon this year, the company behind the initiative says.

The education push, which is being financed by the Chinese government and run by the rice producing giant Long Ping High-Tech Agriculture, is the latest sign that the Hunan company is considering a research or commercial based venture in Cameroon.

The education program aims to bring Chinese expertise in seed growing and modern cultivation techniques to local people.

Similar programs in Zambia and Liberia have allowed Long Ping to develop and employ a skilled local workforce for commercial farming operations.

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The company also provides training in Nigeria and Ethiopia, where it is testing crop suitability and market potential with smaller, research-based operations.

Feng Xiahui, president of the International Training Institute of Long Ping, says the Cameroon classes will be modeled on the successful programs in Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria and Zambia.

Since 2005, Long Ping has provided training to about 4,000 people in the four countries.

A further 1,000 Africans have traveled to China to receive training there.

Huang Dahui, chief trainer at the Longping International Training Institute, says that under the initiative in Cameroon an initial core group of 20 locals will receive instruction in modern farming, with the expectation that they will go on to teach others.

"Local agricultural authorities will find the students," he says. "They will receive training and then can teach more people later when the program is done.

"We tailor the training to suit the local natural conditions and the type of crops that are likely to grow best in those natural conditions." Cameroon is thought to be conducive to growing rice, he says.

Huang says Long Ping is in talks with the Cameroon government, which he says is keen to sound out the company's interest in investing.

Mutual interest in a possible deal was sparked three years ago when two officials from Cameroon traveled to Hunan province for training with Long Ping.

But Huang cautions that there are a number issues to work through before either side makes any decisions, and nothing is likely to go ahead without China and Cameroon being involved at a governmental level.

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