Li Xiaoyun, professor from China Agriculture University, talks with local people in Tanzania about planting maize. (PHOTO: Kong Deji)
By GONG Qian
To eradicate poverty in all its forms everywhere is the top priority of the 2030 Agenda for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But according to an UN 2022 report, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out more than four years of progress on poverty eradication.
Such an "unprecedented" reversal is being further exacerbated by multiple and interlinked global crises, prominently referring to the climate crisis, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and food crisis.
In this case, China's success in alleviating poverty is of great importance for the world to promote sustainable development. It provides a new approach for global development and a new paradigm of governance on poverty reduction, and has already made positive impacts around the world, considering successful cooperation between China and some African countries, Xu Xiuli, a professor from China Agricultural University (CAU), told Science and Technology Daily recently.
Xu is now presiding over a project by National Social Science Fund of China, called "Research on the Approaches and Mechanism for Effective Experiences Sharing in Poverty Reduction Among China and Countries Involved in the Belt and Road Initiative".
"Inadequate ability in technology application is the core problem responsible for its low agricultural productivity in Africa," said Xu.
Cooperation between CAU and its partners in Tanzania is a typical approach taken by Chinese universities and institutes, which focuses on imparting techniques as a way of reducing poverty. CAU has been using Chinese experience, including leveraging technology-led farming methods, to increase agricultural productivity and improve food nutrition in Morogoro, Tanzania.
The two sides launched the "Small Technology, Big Harvest" project in 2011, which was initiated by Li Xiaoyun, a professor from CAU. Working with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Morogoro regional government, the Chinese research team came up with a maize intensive planting technique. This produced a three-fold increase in maize yields. According to data from the research team, as of mid-November 2021, the project had been referred to more than 1,000 local farmers and covered more than 10,000 mu (670 hectares) of land.
In 2021, CAU launched another pilot project to improve soybeans value chain in Morogoro. The project, with 200 demonstration farmers in four villages being engaged, aims at improving the nutrition of local villagers and increasing their income.
Such cooperation benefits all the farmers. For Tanzania, its agriculture technology has been greatly improved. Most importantly, local people have gradually experienced a cognitive change in the past 10 years, said Xu, adding that "They build up the confidence to be self-reliant."
According to Xu, CAU has established an overseas center for talent cultivation, in order to acquire practical experience and do further research on poverty reduction for academicians.
Outside the African continent, China has carried out its first overseas aid project - the East Asia Poverty Reduction Cooperation Pilot Project with governments from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar since 2017. China helped six villages to build infrastructure including roads and water supply systems, supported rural industries involving animal husbandry and crop cultivation, improved communities' environment and more.
Xu said that China is taking an approach, namely "Closing-Gap Experience Sharing in Foreign Aid", when offering assistance and experience in fighting against poverty to other countries. First, the shared experience is pragmatic, accessible, and in line with the development stage of the time and place. Second, China would explore cooperation boundaries with other countries by discussing and consulting, and fully respect the established institutional systems of the recipient countries. Third, the both sides are expected to build a good bilateral relationship with mutual equality and benefits and win-win cooperation.
In the past, the majority of developing countries would learn from developed countries how to alleviate poverty. But China's great success in poverty reduction may offer a new option for them, Ma Junle, a post-doctoral from CAU, told Science and Technology Daily.
In recent years, Development Assistance Committee members including the European Union, France, Germany, and the U.S. have showed weak motivation and capability to offer aid on global poverty reduction due to the economic downtrend. China's poverty reduction experience sharing, serving as a global public good, injects a new impetus for the world, as the country has been investing more in it, said Ma.
All in all, the world will see how China shoulders its responsibility to tackle this common challenge facing humanity.