Home > News > Content

Nanjing Agricultural University Webinar on Strengthening China-Africa Agricultural Co-operation against COVID 19 Opportunities and Challenges

Author:    Date:  July 1, 2020  Read:

On June 23rd, Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU) held a webinar on strengthening China-Africa agricultural cooperation against COVID 19; opportunities and challenges. The key speakers in attendance included Prof. Hu Feng the Vice President of NAU, a professor of Ecology; Liu Hongwu, Founding Director of the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University; Prof. Wang Xiu’e, the Vice-Dean of College of Agriculture, NAU; Prof. Zhu Weiyun from the College of Animal Science and Technology, NAU; Assoc. Prof Joshua Ogweno, Director of Confucius Institute at Egerton University, Kenya; and Hu Jigao, the Deputy General Manager of CR20G Mozambique Branch. More than 100 international students from African countries as well as students and staff representatives from the Colleges of Foreign Languages and Life Sciences were also in attendance. Prof. Han Jiqin, the Dean of the COIE presided over the webinar.

In his speech, Prof. Hu Feng, stressed on the 4 things that President Xi Jinping said should be consistently pursued in China- Africa Cooperation during the June 17thChina- Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19. This indicates the path that China and Africa should follow in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1995, NAU has partnered with Egerton University in Kenya to develop various forms of cooperation under the China-Kenya Agreement for Cooperation in Higher Education. These include personnel training, scientific research, demonstration and promotion of agricultural technology; all of which have achieved fruitful results. In recent years, NAU has established close ties with Hawassa University in Ethiopia, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), African Women in Agricultural Research and Development, and other universities and international institutions. Prof. Hu Feng pointed out that NAU will provide opportunities for African students to do degree programs, and invite agricultural officials and technicians from African countries to take part in short-term training programs in China. In addition, NAU plans to develop an agricultural training network that will cover the whole of Africa with the support of the Agricultural Technology Training Alliance for Confucius Institutes in Africa.

Liu Hongwu, a board member in the World Economic Forum on Africa Agenda in Davos, pointed out in his speech “China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation: Prospects and Potentials” that African countries are rich in natural resources and have huge development potential and strong development demands. He stated that the cooperation should focus on human resource development, exploring knowledge sharing system and sharing of educational resources in order to build a closer China-Africa Community with a Shared Future.

As the Chinese Director of the Sino-Kenyan Belt and Road Joint Laboratory for Crop Molecular Biology (SKBRJL-CMB), Prof. Wang Xiu’e introduced the history of the 25-year partnership between NAU’s College of Agriculture and the College of Horticulture, and Egerton University, from the Biotechnology Laboratory, to the Horticulture Technical Cooperation Centre, to the Joint Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology and finally to the SKBRJL-CMB. The joint lab aims to promotegreen,lower input,stable,higher yieldandbetter-qualityplants while using environmentally friendly techniques.

Prof. Zhu Weiyun presented the "China-Africa Animal Production Cooperation-Nanjing Agricultural University Practice.” In May 2018, the Belt and Road Innovation Alliance for animal husbandry was established in Nanjing. The alliance has organized seminars and training, carried out scientific research cooperation, training doctoral students and technical personnel for African countries leading to high animal production efficiency in African countries and an active contribution to improving the quality and safety of animal products.

Assoc. Prof. Joshua Ogweno, Director of Confucius institute at Egerton University highlighted some of the challenges Kenya is facing as a result of the pandemic as well as other threats that the country has faced in recent years including periodic drought and floods, desert locusts. He stated the impact of these challenges as leading to unproductive population and food insecurity and poor nutrition. He went on to mention some of the opportunities that arise from these challenges; proposing the need for resilient food system which can be achieved by an increase in the investment of agricultural scientific research, and promotion of technology focused on agricultural intensification to increase productivity and reduce yield gaps. He also pointed the need to invest in early warning systems, satellite mapping, and soil testing technology.

According to Hu Jigao, Deputy General Manager of the Wanbao Agricultural Development Co., Ltd. in Mozambique, with the support of NAU, it successfully introduced hybrid rice varieties, and carried out mechanical transplanting and regeneration of new technologies such as rice and seed soaking and germination experiments. This has increased rice yield from 3 tons per hectare in the past to 7 tons at present. Wanbao will continue to deepen cooperation with universities, increase investment in technology and infrastructure, accelerate technology transfer to achieve stable and high yield; deepen cooperation with local government and continue to build China-Africa Agricultural Industrial Park.

During the Q&A session, experts responded to some questions raised from the international students. Questions such as how to ensure more African countries benefit from this cooperation were answered one by one. Experts pointed out that the epidemic is affecting the global economic development, and the government has to take stimulus measures to get out of the predicament. Strengthening China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation will help China's agricultural technology be grounded in Africa hence increasing its contribution to economic growth through agricultural scientific and technological progress.

Finally, Prof. Han Jiqin summarized the forum noting that the webinar shows that the University is actively participating in the “Belt and Road Initiative”, promoting the China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation and its’ determination to achieve the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. She hopes the students will successfully complete their studies, and bravely undertake Sino-African cultural and technical exchanges and cooperation.

The webinar received a positive feedback from the African international students most of them feeling motivated to make a positive contribution towards the China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation.