While experts from the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS) teach their Congolese colleagues to operate equipment in Haikou, capital of China's Hainan Province, a CATAS team is sharing agricultural expertise with local students in fields near Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo.
From Haikou to Brazzaville, Chinese experts sow seeds of hope in local communities by sharing their expertise in tropical agriculture, writing a new chapter in China-Africa cooperation.
LONG-LASTING EXPERTISE AND SKILLS
The Republic of Congo, which boasts vast arable land and abundant solar resources, has long been grappling with technical shortage. That is where CATAS comes in.
As a national-level comprehensive research institution dedicated to tropical agricultural science studies in China, CATAS has sent more than 20 experts to the China-Aid Agriculture Technology Demonstration Center (ATDC) since 2007.
These experts tested and selected tropical crop varieties suitable for local cultivation, demonstrated agricultural and poultry farming skills, and offered local people extensive and intensive teaching and training.
"Talents and technologies are our greatest assets. We can leverage such resources to aid in developing tropical agriculture in the Republic of Congo," said Zhou Quanfa, former director of the ATDC.
To facilitate progress for local people, Zhou and other CATAS experts have compiled the Collection of Pamphlets for Practical Farming Techniques for Tropical Agriculture "Going Global" in Chinese, English, and French, covering a wide range of cultivation techniques for cassava, maize, watermelon and other vegetables and fruits.
Such measures have benefited many Congolese people, including Diakabana Ngoma Andre, who received hands-on training in watermelon, cassava, vegetable cultivation, and poultry farming for an extended period.
By utilizing the skills he acquired, Andre cultivated a watermelon field and reaped his first earnings. "I used that income to buy my first TV set. It's a cherished memory," he said.
Over the past five years, CATAS experts in Brazzaville have conducted 29 training sessions with 2,205 participants, bringing advanced technologies to local farmers and officials for the sustainable agricultural development in the country.
Paul Valentin Ngobo, Congolese minister of agriculture, livestock and fisheries, expressed heartfelt thanks to the ATDC, saying: "Equipment will eventually go broken, but the knowledge stays."
FRUITS OF TECHNOLOGICAL COLLABORATION
Many Chinese vegetable varieties have entered the Republic of Congo's local markets. Among them, some crops that are previously rare in the country such as soybeans have gained prominence.
"Trainees not only saw and grew soybeans for the first time, but also tasted soybean products from China," said Huang Xiaoming, a CATAS expert.
Technological breakthroughs have also released the potential of local agriculture. Notably, the introduction of high-yield and disease-resistant cassava varieties from China has doubled local cassava output across 5,280 acres of cultivated land.
Meanwhile, the ATDC and the Congolese Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries have jointly implemented the aid project "China-Congo (Brazzaville) High-Quality Cassava Flour Industrial Technology Demonstration and Promotion," and established a cassava flour production line, to benefit local farmers.
Agricultural training and technological advancements have increasingly benefited local populations, highlighting the ATDC's crucial role in promoting tropical agricultural cooperation between China and the Republic of Congo since its official launch in 2012.
"We have always viewed the ATDC as a 'bridge' and a 'window' through which we can closely connect with Africa," said Zhou.
In November, the second China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation Forum will be held in China's Hainan province, opening a broader space for deepening China-Africa agricultural, investment and trade cooperation.
According to Huang Sanwen, president of CATAS, in future the academy will continue to help upgrade Congo's agricultural industries and further promote the development of tropical agriculture in Africa, offering "China wisdom" and "China strength" for the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.