Interview: South-South cooperation critical in boosting Africa's agricultural production

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-12 20:35:56|Editor: Song Lifang
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by Ronald Ssekandi and Yuan Qing

KAMPALA, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Uganda is in its second phase of implementing the South to South Cooperation program aimed at boosting agricultural production in the East African country.

Alhaji Jallow, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Country Representative to Uganda, told Xinhua in an interview that there is evidence that the model of farming, featuring sending Chinese experts to work and impart knowledge in the African fields, is boosting production.

The 2-million-U.S.-dollar program is a result of a request by Uganda to China through FAO.

China through a tripartite agreement with Uganda and FAO has been sending agriculture experts to Uganda to share experiences on improving agriculture production in a bid to fight poverty.

Jallow and other experts argue that since agriculture is the mainstay of many African economies, this model of farming, borrowing from the Chinese experience, is critical to the continent's development.

Compared with sending African officials abroad for training, he said the Chinese practice of working in the field together with local African farmers is a better way, as farmers can always ask questions and share their experiences directly.

Since the program was started in Uganda back in 2012, there are indications that farmers have been adopting new farming techniques and technologies from the Chinese.

The agronomists have also introduced high-yielding crops that are fast growing and do not require a lot of acreage.

Results from the trials of the growth of Chinese hybrid rice show that it yields three or four times more than the local breed. Similarly the yield of the Chinese fox-tail millet is two times more than the local breed, finger millet, in the same acreage.

Also as a result of this South to South cooperation, a 220-million-dollar Chinese agri-industrial park is being constructed in the central part of the country.

The 2,500-acre industrial park will be dedicated to rice farming, poultry, horticulture, and fish farming. It will also include agribusiness, value addition, use of renewable energy and agro-machinery.

According to the Ugandan government, the facility will be a model agricultural industrial park where people can learn from and know more about Chinese technologies.

Jallow argued that the success of the South to South cooperation program in Uganda shows that it can be replicated elsewhere in Africa.

According to FAO, the aim of the South to South cooperation is to boost sustainable agricultural and rural development, tackling food insecurity and poverty, and improving resilience of agriculture to natural disaster around the Global South.

James Tumwine, a ministry of agriculture official, told Xinhua in a recent interview that Africa needs to make policies and implement them to achieve the desired results.

He said this discipline has been instrumental in fast tracking China's development over the last 30 years, while urging agriculture officials who have trained in China to share their experiences when they come back home so that appropriate policies are developed.

"We can not continue to talk about how China has developed in the last 30 years without us having a clear road map on how we can do it. We don't have to reinvent the wheel, the wheel is already running, you just have to hasten the opportunities," he said.

Tumwine said from his various training in China and elsewhere, there must be a deliberate effort to develop agriculture especially if a country derives its livelihood from it.

He said like China, many African countries must master the importance of value chain development.

"When we visited China, we realized that when you talk of any commodity, the government addresses the entire value chain, they will know where the seed comes from, who will produce it, how they will add value and where it will be marketed," he said.

"If we can adopt that idea of promoting the entire value chain of a given commodity, we shall go very far in utilizing Chinese agricultural technology," he added.

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