China's resilient food systems inspire Africa amid pandemic: experts

(Xinhua) 09:22, September 09, 2021

NAIROBI, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- China's ability to sustain the resilience of its food and agriculture systems at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an inspiration to African countries, experts said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a side event of the ongoing African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2021 Summit in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, the experts said Africa should leverage best practices from China including the use of E-commerce to minimize the pandemic's shocks on agricultural value chains.

Mbelwa Kairuki, ambassador of Tanzania to China said that African countries were keen to draw from China's success in averting widespread disruption on its food systems during the pandemic.

"China demonstrated competence and resilience in the areas of food security and agriculture in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, offering vital lessons for Africa," said Kairuki.

Kenya is hosting the African Green Revolution Forum 2021 summit virtually from Sept. 7 to 10 under the theme of "Pathways to Recovery and Resilient Food Systems".

Among high level delegates that are expected to participate in the four-day summit include Heads of State and Government, ministers, representatives of multilateral lenders, industry executives and innovators.

Chinese and African experts participating at the side event stressed that sharing experiences on mitigating impacts of COVID-19 on food systems was crucial to averting hunger, malnutrition and loss of rural incomes.

Nie Fengying, director general and research fellow with Agriculture Information Institute of Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science said that widespread uptake of electronic commerce proved effective in sustaining food supply chains even as stringent coronavirus prevention measures were enforced.

According to Nie, a vibrant digital commerce infrastructure combined with cold chain facilities ensured that supply of agricultural commodities was not interrupted in China at the height of the pandemic.

She said that China's expertise in logistics, enactment of supportive policies to spur growth of electronic commerce in rural areas could offer vital lessons to African countries whose food supply chains were affected by the pandemic, resulting in a spike in malnutrition among vulnerable demographics.

Fadel Ndiame, deputy president of Nairobi-based Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said the continent should apply lessons learnt from China's ability to stabilize food systems in the wake of the pandemic to enact policies that spur agricultural innovations.

Ndiame noted that agriculture could be the next frontier for China-Africa cooperation adding that it promises immense benefits including revitalizing rural economies, food security and jobs for the youth.

Han Jiqin , professor and dean with School for International Education of Nanjing Agricultural University in China said that China-Africa agricultural cooperation anchored on knowledge, skills and technology transfer is key to boost crop yield in the continent besides tackling supply chain hitches occasioned by the pandemic.

Han said that by upscaling public and private sector investments in modern farming systems like China, African countries will be able to withstand pandemic's aftershocks like decreased supply of staples. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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