China dispatches six teams of senior agricultural experts to assist Burundi

(People's Daily Online) 13:16, February 21, 2024

"Our hybrid rice grows well," said Yang Huade, head of a team of senior Chinese agricultural experts assisting Burundi, on the way from Bujumbura, the largest city in the African country, to the China-aided agricultural technology demonstration center there.

Since 2009, China has sent six teams of senior agricultural experts to assist Burundi. Agricultural cooperation between the two countries has made significant contributions to Burundi's development vision of "food for all and savings for every household."

A Chinese agricultural expert (first from left) celebrates the rice harvest with villagers in a demonstration village dedicated to poverty alleviation through rice cultivation in Bujumbura Rural Province, Burundi. (Photo/Wu Peiyang)

In 2018, a Chinese expert team launched the first hybrid rice demonstration program in Linge 4 village, Gihanga, in Bubanza, Burundi. They provided funds and technical guidance to the village, cultivated young technical leaders, and trained farmers. A total of 1,072 farmers from 134 households in the village grew hybrid rice that year.

"Linge 4 village is the first demonstration village of rice cultivation for poverty alleviation we established in Burundi," Yang said.

Today, Linge 4 village has been lifted out of poverty, with the per unit yield of rice increasing by 136 percent and the per capita share of grain exceeding 900 kilograms annually.

John, a villager with 12 children, now owns a new house and operates a rice processing plant. "Food used to be a huge problem in my family. It was never easy for us to eat two meals a day," he said. He added that today his family has enough food and all his children can attend school.

"Indeed, our lives have changed," said 33-year-old Egide, noting that Chinese experts are always providing guidance in the fields.

"My family used to grow only half a hectare of regular rice in the past, harvesting less than 2 tonnes annually, which wasn't even enough to feed ourselves. Following the guidance of Chinese experts, we planted hybrid rice, expanded the planting area to 1.5 hectares, and increased the yield per hectare to 7 to 8 tonnes. We can earn 15 million Burundi francs ($5,244) by selling grains every growing season," Egide said.

The Chinese agricultural expert teams have established 36 demonstration villages like Linge 4 village in Burundi and will build another 20 in the future.

"The Chinese agricultural expert teams nurtured me," said Evrard Ndayikeje, director general of the National Agency for the Promotion and Regulation of Cooperative Societies in Burundi.

Several years ago, Ndayikeje was unemployed after graduating from university. However, his situation changed in 2016 when he was selected as an agricultural technician by a Chinese expert team and learned how to cultivate Chinese hybrid rice. Thanks to his talent, Ndayikeje has become a prominent figure in promoting hybrid rice cultivation techniques and now serves as a senior government official in Burundi.

Yang said that the Chinese expert teams have focused on developing young agricultural technical leaders like Ndayikeje.

Ernest, a local villager and young technical leader, has successfully planted hybrid rice under the guidance of the Chinese expert teams, ensuring his family has sufficient food. Additionally, he has been dispatched to Cibitoke Province to offer guidance on cultivating and promoting hybrid rice throughout the province, establishing himself as an expert in the field.

In 2023, the Chinese expert team conducted training sessions for 48 young agricultural technical leaders, engaged with 3,600 farming households in demonstration villages, and provided training to 450 college students in the African country.

"Chinese experts have given villagers a means of livelihood and specialized skills. Cultivating hybrid rice is a very effective form of assistance," Ndayikeje said.

Thanks to the support of the Chinese expert teams, Ndayikeje has visited China several times for training and research.

"I hope Burundi and China will continue deepening agricultural cooperation," he said, believing that Burundi will attain food self-sufficiency, alleviate poverty and become prosperous under the guidance of the Chinese expert teams.

This year, the sixth group of 11 Chinese experts, including Yang who has been in the country since 2015 as part of the third group of senior agricultural experts sent by China, began their work in Burundi. They are scheduled to stay in Burundi for three years.

In May 2022, Yang was honored with an award for his contribution to Burundi's agricultural development by Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye. Under the guidance of the Chinese expert teams, Burundi's average rice yield per hectare increased from 3 tonnes to 10 tonnes, marking a significant advancement, according to Ndayishimiye.

Yang, 59, hopes to continue his efforts in Burundi. He is confident that through the cultivation of hybrid rice, Burundi will essentially achieve food self-sufficiency within the next three years.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


Related Stories