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Educational cooperation brings Chinese ag tech to rural Africa

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2021-01-14 20:28
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University and regional government officials join the awarded agricultural extension officers for a group photo. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In order to support poverty reduction and rural agricultural development practices in Tanzania, the China Agricultural University in March 2018 signed a memorandum of understanding with the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania to advance collaboration in agricultural research and development.

Almost three years later, the benefits of this collaboration are already visible. According to the Morogoro Regional Secretariat, the government arm coordinating the project, it has increased maize productivity from an average of 2 tons per hectare to 3.

This has increased food security and income generation, as the project is on course to reach 2,000 demonstration farmers, each with at least one acre of maize fields, by the end of this year.

On Jan 13, another milestone was reached by the project after an online ceremony was conducted to acknowledge the hard work of the top 10 agricultural extension workers on the maize labor intensification project in Morogoro.

Speaking at the event, Emmanuel Kalobele, Morogoro's regional administrative secretary, said the collaboration between CAU and SUA has increased interaction between farmers and extension officers in his region by upscaling the frequency of field visits.

"Some of our agricultural and extension officers from villages were privileged to have a study tour in China and learn more on agriculture development, and also a number of students and officials from CAU visited the Morogoro region to evaluate our progress," Kalobele said.

"We are glad that based on this spirit of mutual learning and sharing between Chinese and Tanzanian small farmers, we have attained capacity-building for local stakeholders to enable the adoption of Chinese technologies and approaches in selected pilot villages," he added.

In her address, Wang Ke, China's ambassador to Tanzania, said such collaborations have led to an increase of Chinese investment in Tanzania's agriculture sector and more Tanzanian agricultural products are entering the Chinese market.

"As one of the agricultural bases in Tanzania, Morogoro has played an important part in China-Tanzania agriculture cooperation. The region hosts a Chinese sisal farm, with its sisal fiber being processed and exported to China. The Chinese Agriculture Technical Demonstration Centre based in Morogoro has also been instrumental in bringing Chinese advanced agricultural techniques to the people of Tanzania," Wang said.

"I hope the cooperation between CAU, SUA and the Morogoro region will be further strengthened, and through this program more Chinese agricultural experience can be passed on, so that more local farmers, rural people, women and children in particular can benefit and become food secure," she added.

Wang expressed her hopes with the success of this project, it could be promoted to other regions in Tanzania and set a good example of collaboration to improve grain production and ensuring food security in Tanzania.

Speaking from China, Du Taisheng, vice president of CAU, said the award ceremony is evidence of the significant and substantial people-oriented cooperation between Tanzania and China.

"The China-Tanzania joint maize project is a success, and the cooperation between China and Tanzania is fruitful. We are happy project farmers benefited from the increasing yield of their maize production. Under the leadership of the local government, agricultural extension workers have played a significant role in promoting maize planting technology. I congratulate them on their achievements," Du said.

To acknowledge the hard work of the top 10 agricultural extension workers, they received a certificate and a motorcycle. Kalobele said the motorcycles will be instrumental in expanding their reach in far-flung areas as they share the knowledge they have acquired with more farmers.

"The reason we settled on motorcycles as an award is to facilitate their movement within the village during the implementation of their daily duties. With motorcycles, they will be able to reach many farmers within a short time," he said.

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