Fana: At a Speed of Life!

China’s perennial rice technology will help improve food security in Africa

Recently, perennial rice was included in the agricultural technology promotion framework at the High-Level Ministerial Session of the fifth African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (ARDWE), and was listed in the “AU Seeds and Biotechnology Program 2024-2025”.

At the China-Africa Leaders’ Roundtable held in August 2023, President Xi Jinping announced three major proposals to support Africa’s development and launched the Plan for China Supporting Africa’s Agricultural Modernization. China has proposed a series of targeted measures to help Africa expand grain plantation, encourage Chinese companies to increase agricultural investment in Africa, and enhance cooperation with Africa on seed and other areas of agro-technology, to support Africa in transforming and upgrading its agricultural sector. At the opening ceremony of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi announced eight major steps China will take to support the joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, saying that China will support Belt and Road Initiative projects on the basis of market and business operation.

Perennial rice is the most representative breakthrough in the innovative utilization of agricultural germplasm resources in China. As a major food country, China has always been committed to sharing its agricultural development experience and practical technologies with African countries. With the continuous advancement of China-Africa Belt and Road Initiative construction, perennial rice is accelerating its take-roots on the African continent. The emergence of perennial rice varieties has transformed rice from annual to perennial, making it possible to plant once and harvest for 2 to 4 years continuously. Starting from the second year (or the second season), the production of perennial rice no longer requires seed purchasing, seedlings, plowing, planting, etc. Only field management and harvesting are needed afterward. The innovative rice farming model not only greatly simplifies production process, but also effectively alleviates a series of social problems such as tight farming time and labor shortage during the “double rush” for harvesting and sowing the two seasons of rice respectively. As the sole commercially viable technology for perennial food crop production globally, perennial rice was successfully selected as one of the FAO’s International Agricultural Technology Innovations in 2018.

In Africa, more than half of the countries rely on imported food. The grain yield per hectare is about half of the world average, and the overall food security situation is grim. Africa urgently needs modernized and sustainable agricultural development, and food production suitable for African farmers, African land and climate is the key to agricultural development. Notably, the Uganda National Academy of Sciences has successfully obtained the Plant Variety Rights for Ugandan perennial rice. Led by UNAS, the initial experimental planting resulted in a remarkable yield of over 6,000 kilograms per hectare during the first season, surpassing the output of traditional local rice by several times.

Based on perennial rice trial planting, high-yield demonstration planting and promotion will be carried out on a large scale to continuously contribute “China’s scientific and technological strength” to the sustainable agricultural development of countries along the Belt and Road routes to promote agricultural innovations in Africa.

Source: Chinese Embassy in Addis Ababa


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