A delegation from China’s Ministry of Agriculture recently visited the NEPAD Agency and a number of farms in South Africa, which fall under the scope of a Memorandum of Understanding on agriculture, signed in 2011.
The meeting was an annual joint review and planning platform within the context of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and China’s collaboration to strengthen agriculture science in Africa’s research institutions.
The Chinese delegation toured three farms in Holfontein, south of Johannesburg. The farms belong to a cooperative of ten members. Among them is Dr Raphesu, who has been engaged in a number of CAADP discussion forums on policy reform to increase food production in Africa. Dr Raphesu hosted the Chinese and NEPAD Agency delegation to showcase successful operations on his and two other farms in the area. Dr Raphesu is managing a 500 hectare farm and his neighbour, Mr Mokoka manages an 800 hectare farm. Both have a 30 year lease with the South African Government. They currently sell their grain, mostly maize, locally although they plan to venture into cattle breeding for beef and biofuel production as well as export.
Ye Anping speaking to Mr Amos Njoro, livestock and grain farmer, with Ms Liu Jianling
Dr Raphesu said that CAADP has added to his knowledge on the agricultural policy initiatives and activities in South Africa and across the African continent. This has helped him to engage better with government policy makers, which in turn has led to his improving his farming operations as he now has a better grasp on inter-regional trade opportunities, as well as the possibility of extending his exports to countries further afield such as China.
At another farm in the same area, Amos Njoro an agro economist gave the visitors a tour of his 105 hectare farm that includes a poultry unit which produces about 3500 eggs a day. Mr Njoro also hosts tertiary students for their practical exercises in agriculture.
Head of CAADP, Martin Bwalya said: “The emerging priorities are knowledge support; science and technology and research, education and skills development linked to employment and wealth creation. Another important issue is the role of private sector and development of enterprises from production to processing, so NEPAD cherishes the cooperation with the Chinese government in strengthening Africa’s agriculture. ”
Mr Shangbin Gao head of the delegation said that NEPAD was a good platform for cooperation between China and the continent, stating that his country would like to cooperate with Africa more in the area of food security.
They agreed on a number of joint activities for 2014 including NEPAD’s crucial role in strengthening cooperation on capacity building. China’s Agriculture ministry will conduct capacity building activities to transfer advanced and practical agricultural technology to African countries to improve technology, productivity and food security.
Mr Ye Anping discussing maize seed varieties with Mr Mokoka next to a planter
The other areas of collaboration will include exchange study tours, seminars and workshops, sharing agricultural policies under a multilateral framework, which includes the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), China-Africa Cooperation Forum, and other UN Agencies.
The MOU also speaks about trade and investment promotion, where NEPAD will help to give exposure to Chinese agricultural private sector to investment opportunities in Africa, by facilitating information of national and regional investment platforms.
Other benefits of this agreement include joint research, long and short term training, and innovation on improving production. This area of collaboration will also include exploring possible research and technology demonstration in climate change adaptation technologies and practices.
The African Union has declared 2014 the Year of Agriculture and Food Security, marking CAADP’s 10th Anniversary. It is a commemorative year for taking stock of successes and lessons learned, ten years since CAADP was adopted to stimulate the reforms necessary for agriculture to have a positive impact on socio-economic growth and sustainable development. The farmers visited in South Africa hence provide a good case in point for some assessment as to whether the African continent is on the right path of agricultural transformation. In 2014, Africa Union member states will make decisions on what they want to see in the next ten years in implementing CAADP, including South-South cooperation in agriculture with countries such as China.