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China's good practices in South-South and Triangular Cooperation are helping developing countries to develop their agriculture

In January 2021, the Chinese government published a white paper on China's international development cooperation in the new era. In September, during the General Debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, China put forward a Global Development Initiative, an appeal for countries to focus on alleviating poverty and ensuring food security.

China regards the facilitation of the development of agriculture and rural areas in developing countries and poverty alleviation as priorities for agricultural South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC).The outcomes of such cooperation have been fruitful over the past 70 years.

China provides the recipient countries with aid to build agricultural infrastructure. According to the statistics, it has so far implemented about 500 agricultural complete sets of projects, including the construction of agricultural water conservancy and irrigation infrastructure, the improvement of agricultural transportation networks, and the construction of intensive agricultural cooperative demonstration zones covering the whole industry chain.

For over 70 years, China's agricultural foreign aid has aided and established agricultural technology demonstration projects in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In Africa, China has established over 90 demonstration farms, centers and stations for agricultural technology. Since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000, China has constructed more than 20 agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa.

China also helps with the capacity building of human resources. On the one hand, it has dispatched more than 2,000 agriculture experts and technicians to over 30 developing countries through bilateral and multilateral channels. On the other hand, it has organized over 400 training courses in China, training more than 200,000 agricultural officials, specialists, technicians and local farmers for the recipient countries. These two models have benefited millions of local people, either directly or indirectly.

As part of its extensive agricultural cooperation with Africa, China has dispatched high-level agriculture experts and developed agricultural vocational cooperation covering various levels, fields and ranges. For example, in April 2001, China's Ministry of Agriculture (now the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) sent about 20 agricultural vocational teachers to Ethiopia for local teacher training, which formally started the vocational cooperation between China and Ethiopia on agriculture. By 2020,485 teachers had been dispatched to 13 vocational schools or institutes in Ethiopia, offering 56 courses and sharing over 70 advanced practical technologies. The first compilation of textbooks filled the gap in Ethiopian vocational agricultural education. Ethiopian authorities called it a milestone.

As for multilateral cooperation, China has established long and stable cooperative partnerships with international organizations such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Programme, International Fund for Agricultural Development and the United Nations Development Programme. For example, the Chinese government has altogether contributed $130 million in three phases to set up the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund, in support of agricultural SSTC.

From 1996 to 2021, China dispatched almost 1,100 agricultural experts and technicians to over 30 countries in Africa, Asia, the South Pacific and the Caribbean, and demonstrated and transferred over 1,000 agricultural technologies to the recipient countries, increasing the crop production in the project areas by 30 to 60 percent on average, benefiting over 1 million smallholder farmers directly or indirectly. The China-FAO South-South Cooperation program has been regarded as a model for global SSTC. The Foreign Economic Cooperation Center (FECC) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China is the main implementation unit for the SSTC between China and the FAO. As the FAO reference center for South-South Cooperation Coordination, Research and Training, the FECC takes charge of the overall coordination of the FAO reference centers (covering areas of hybrid rice, freshwater aquiculture, biogas, and tropical crops, etc.) in China, accounting for 75 percent of the SSTC between China and the FAO.

China has also promoted regional agricultural cooperation through platforms such as the China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation Mechanism and Lancang-Mekong Agricultural Cooperation Mechanism, etc. In addition, China has enhanced cooperation in areas such as high-yield cultivation, development of agricultural industry chains, and cross-border animal disease prevention and control.

In addition, China has offered emergency food assistance to more than 50 countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and other regions, benefiting tens of millions of calamity-stricken people and the most vulnerable local communities. Besides, the Chinese government has supported and aided agriculture in developing countries by offering concessional loans and preferential tax policies, and other assistance.

The UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has put forward new requirements for strengthening agricultural SSTC, and China will promote its comprehensive development with a demand-oriented approach.

China will first promote the development of the SSTC from technology transfer to "South-South Cooperation Plus", which includes policy dialogue, platform building, knowledge sharing, digital agriculture, and value chain development, to promote sustainable development and the inclusive growth of agricultural SSTC. By integrating the supply of agricultural materials, agricultural production, processing, storage, transportation and sales, the SSTC can provide comprehensive solutions to recipient countries in accordance with the layout of the whole industry value chain.

Importantly, it is difficult to achieve the goals without the efforts and effective cooperation from and with the recipient country. It is important to fully respect the initiative and ownership of the recipient countries in the SSTC and enhance their capability for independent development.

Zhang Lubiao is director-general of the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China. Yu Haomiao is deputy division director of International Organizations of the FECC.

The authors contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn