China Aids Africa in Food Insecurity

Henri Mumba, Malawi’s deputy ambassador to China, had never tried baking a cake by himself before.

But he did entertain 20 people with a chocolate cake made in less than 2 minutes on his first trial, by applying a special type of cake flour produced in China.

“The instant flour has made life so much easier,” Mumba said when visiting Beijing Grain Group on Wednesday, “and seriously, I am considering introducing the technology to my country”.

In a recent tour to two State-owned factories for grain storage and processing in Beijing, diplomats from 10 different African countries have soaked up some Chinese experience to tackle food insecurity.

As part of follow-up mechanisms of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, an intergovernmental initiative that aimed at strengthening ties between China and African countries, a series of programs have been launched to improve cooperation on various issues, notably in the area of food and agriculture.

The world has marveled at China’s noteworthy achievements in hunger alleviation. For instance, China has succeeded in reducing its ratio of underweight children by more than 50 percent between 1990 and 2005, which is an important indicator for United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

But food insecurity has always been a prime concern for Africa, a continent with some 1 billion people with a vast majority failing to live above the poverty line.

In fact, not a single nation in Sub-Saharan Africa is on track to achieve a single MDG, and remains the only region in the world where malnutrition is not declining, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Therefore “the African world wishes to learn from China to keep up a faster pace of development”, said Michael Bulwaka, secretary of the Uganda Embassy in Beijing.

Bulwaka, who has been here for less than a year, said he has been deeply impressed by China’s advanced breakthroughs in terms of food storage.

“In Uganda, we suffer a severe grain loss each year due to pest damage. But our Chinese counterparts categorize the types of food and place them in silos of different shapes respectively,” he said.

“This idea has provided fresh insights into grain preservation and has huge added value for my country,” he added.

Food aid to Africa is also littered with all forms of technological assistance.

China’s Henan University of Technology, for instance, has ushered in a training program specifically designed to help African farmers to improve their abilities to process food.

Beginning in 2008, the annual month-long program was mostly attended by government officials and technicians from more than 40 African countries, according to Chen Fusheng, vice-president of Henan University of Technology.

Some attendees have masterfully shifted the technologies into local productivity – a large proportion of which have become the backbone of local economies, Chen said.

Direct investment, along with new concepts and technology, has also helped the Africans jumpstart a vulnerable agriculture.

People in Malawi once had a hard time making a living off cotton, the country’s specialty, as the crop was largely undervalued. But the establishment of Malawi’s Cotton Company – a direct Chinese investment in the region of Balaka two years ago – has turned the industry into a lucrative business.

After injecting more than $100 million in its five components around the country, the company overhauled the operation of the cotton industry, from pest damage to seed reprocessing.

“The investment not only created plenty of job positions, it has led people to justify the values of cotton, mobilizing the local villagers to win a margin,” said Mumba, the Malawian deputy ambassador.

By tapping into related Chinese food corporations, African countries will seek more business opportunities and the Chinese government will spare no efforts in advancing them, said He Yi, director general of State Administration of Grain.

China’s foreign aid has captivated worldwide attention. In her recent speech on the Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development Conference, Helen Clark, the UNDP administrator, spoke highly of China’s role in sharing experiences on sustaining growth and poverty introduction.

(From China Daily)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments