Chinese experts transform African agriculture with education programs

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/25 17:48:39

Villagers in Dongkou county, Central China's Hunan Province catch fish on January 15, 2010. As the village's land is not suitable for planting crops, village officials directed them to build ponds to raise fish so that they could make more money. Photo: IC

He Wang, a 53-year-old research fellow from the Hunan Fisheries Science Institute, returned once again to Ethiopia on October 16, where she has been teaching fish-farming since 2003.

During all these years in Ethiopia, He helped build the country's first standardized aquaculture base, mentored more than 3,000 students, and is about to publish the country's first textbook on aquaculture, called Fish Production, local news site reported.

He Wang is one of many Chinese experts who have played a major role in transforming Africa's agricultural infrastructure, introducing small mechanized tools and advanced agricultural technology to support farming in the continent.

She has been teaching in Ethiopia's Alage ATVET College since 2013, when the university had no textbooks, teaching facilities on fisheries, or opportunities for students to go on field trips.

When He began teaching there, she brought teaching equipment, such as microscopes and fishhooks from China, so that students could conduct the necessary experiments. This equipment was later donated to the school.

In order to help the students gain more practical experience, He and her students built the country's first standardized aquaculture base. Measuring 200 square meters, it took them four months to finish.

The base attracted teachers and students from all over Ethiopia, as it functioned not only as an aquaculture base, but also as a reservoir. Due to its success, the Ethiopian government is planning to make such bases more common all over the country, said

Lost time

He has done a great deal to boost Ethiopia's aquaculture teaching, but this has been achieved at the cost of the many hours she could have spent with her family. She was hardly with her daughter as she grew up, something she feels very guilty about.

He's sacrifice and contribution was rewarded by the Ethiopian and Chinese governments.

In July, Ethiopia's Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources awarded He for her dedication to the country, said the report.

She was received and praised by several high-level officials from China's Ministry of Agriculture, said the institute.

In 2016, Tamirat Tesema Senbeta, Dean of the Alage ATVET College, together with nine other Ethiopian experts and state agricultural officers, were invited to attend a training program organized by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture. During the 12-day program, the visitors learned about Chinese education theory and traveled to several Chinese cities to learn about Chinese curriculum design and college management, according to China Africa, a monthly journal under the Beijing Review.

"The program broadened our insights and will improve efficiency in our colleges," Senbeta, who also visited several agricultural demonstration centers, told the journal.  

In addition, China also sent teachers to Ethiopia to give people there a clearer picture of agricultural development in China and the Chinese vocational education system, said Wang Kaiyuan, one of the organizers from the Ministry of Agriculture. 

Generous hand

China has been giving generous assistance to African countries in the field of agriculture technology, said Li Xiaoyun, an expert from China Agriculture University.

Since 2000, China has sent over 2,000 agricultural experts and over 7,000 medical personnel to Africa, and has trained over 80,000 Africans from more than 50 countries, reported the Xinhua News Agency.

Attaher Maiga, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Country Representative to Rwanda, told Xinhua in September 2016 that "agriculture holds the key to economic growth, poverty reduction and food security in Africa. Agricultural growth is an important component of China's economic relations with African countries."

While western countries tend to assist African countries through plans and policies, Chinese are more minded to find markets and seek cooperation with local governments, said Li, an expert with many years' experience at Africa's agricultural demonstration center which was built with China's help.

He added that in these centers, Chinese experts are more actively engaged with local farmers, government officials and domestic institutions.

Zulu from Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, is one of hundreds of Zambian farmers who have benefited from training programs provided by the China-aided agricultural technology center.

"I have attended the training twice on how to grow mushrooms and this has helped me a lot. I have since started a mushroom project which has helped me increase my income," she told Xinhua.
Newspaper headline: Learning the Land

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