CHANGSHA (Xinhua) --
Su Lirong, a 54-year-old Chinese agricultural
expert, has recently received a laudatory title from his old
friends in Liberia. The title “Tamba Foya” is a local name used
exclusively for those who are considered very respected and
Su formed ties with
Liberia in 2016 after the company he works for, Yuan Longping
High-tech Agriculture Co. Ltd. (LPHT), became the contractor of
China’s second agricultural assistance program in Liberia, where
he is based as an expert in hybrid rice.
In the past two
years, Su and his colleagues worked together to grow China’s
hybrid rice in Liberia. The area of planted hybrid rice reaches
130 hectares, and grain yields more than quadrupled compared
with the local rice variety.
Liberia is one of
the world’s poorest countries, with a population of nearly 5
million. “Liberia has to import 60 percent of grain because its
own output can only meet 40 percent of its 1-million-tonne
demand every year,” Su said.
closures and quarantines in the wake of the outbreak of Ebola in
2015 further disrupted the grain market and processing chain,
making it more difficult to get food, Su said.
Experts like Su are
only a small sample of China’s agricultural support in Africa.
Since 2008, China has signed agreements with Liberia to provide
not only food aid but also agricultural technology assistance.
In May 2013, the
Chinese Academy of Sciences set up a China-Africa research
center to help relieve the grain shortage of African countries
through China’s wisdom and experience.
The center has
introduced China’s high-yield and quicker-growing crop varieties
in corn, hybrid rice and sweet sorghum to countries including
Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.
programs not only increase grain output but also help locals
bring in more income.
hybrid rice from China, many Liberians like Mulbah could hardly
make ends meet.
Mulbah, now chief of
an agricultural cooperative in Liberia, recently bought a
second-hand car and helped one of the members of the cooperative
build a new house after they planted 10 hectares of hybrid rice.
Saturday Flomo, 27,
used to be a taxi driver in Liberia, but he has now been trained
to drive various types of farm machinery.
As the first Chinese
firm authorized to provide training courses on hybrid rice
planting for overseas students, LPHT trains a large number of
overseas agricultural technicians each year.
“Many of the
trainees have become high-level officials and policymakers in
their countries, and their vast understanding of China’s
agriculture can help promote further cooperation with China,”
said Zhang Ke, deputy general manager of LPHT.
“Our aid to Africa
will continue in the future, and the younger generation who were
born in the 1990s is becoming the backbone of the aid program,”