“When I came across the Chinese agricultural experts, I was just sitting idle at home after college graduation. Under their guidance, I started to learn how to plant Chinese hybrid rice and work with others. Thanks to the amazing crop, I built a new home, started a family and led the whole village out of poverty. The Chinese experts have changed my life forever. To acknowledge their great help, I named my very first child Yang, after my Chinese mentor, Mr Yang Huade.” recounted Evrard Ndayikeje, a young Burundian born in December 1989, in Chinese Agricultural Team Changed My Fate and My Hometown. Now, Ndayikeje is striving for food security for the whole of Burundi as the Director General of the National Agency for the Promotion and Regulation of Cooperative Societies of the country.
From Asia to Africa, the Americas, and the South Pacific, how could people in nearly 70 countries reduce hunger and poverty and achieve development with a tiny rice seed? The answer lies in China's hybrid rice assistance under the vision of building a human community with a shared future. In 1973, Chinese expert Yuan Longping solved the technical bottlenecks of hybrid rice with other Chinese researchers. In 1979, Chinese hybrid rice was introduced abroad. Half a century has gone by, and Chinese hybrid rice has now become a flagship of China's international aid. Meanwhile, China has also strengthened agricultural cooperation with more than 140 countries and regions by setting up agricultural demonstration centers, organizing agricultural personnel training and providing massive food aid.
On Nov. 12, 2022, the International Forum on Hybrid Rice Assistance and Global Food Security was held in Beijing. The event was co-sponsored by China International Development Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China (MARA), and the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a written speech at the forum. Senior officials and diplomatic envoys from Laos, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Cuba, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and other countries and regions, together with heads of international organizations, attended the conference in person or via video link. During the event, participants highly appreciated China's technical assistance in agriculture and voiced their support for building a human community with a shared future and the Global Development Initiative put forward by China.
“We are now facing severe challenges from climate change, regional conflicts, the Covid-19 pandemic, etc. Hence, it’s imperative for us to put in concerted efforts to build and consolidate a human community with a shared future. We highly appreciate China’s initiative to discuss the critical issue of food security.” stated Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye in his video speech. “As a Chinese old saying goes, it’s more helpful to teach people how to fish than to just give them fish. But in this case, China did both. Thanks to the technical support from Chinese experts, Burundi has embarked on agricultural research, especially on rice planting, and great success in hybrid rice planting has been made.” he said.
Dinesh Gunawardana, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka extended heartfelt gratitude to China on the behalf of those affected by food insecurity. He also expressed his confidence in the continuous role of such forums in enhancing food security through coordinated action. “Today’s event reminds me of a speech of my father Philip Gunawardana, the then minister of agriculture and food of Sri Lanka. He delivered the speech at the 4th FAO Regional Meeting for Asia and the Far East held in Tokyo in 1959. In the speech, he stated that China, the largest rice producer in the world, deserves an official membership of the FAO. Today, China's hybrid rice has not only eliminated hunger within its territory but also helped multiple Asian, African and Latin American countries achieve food self-sufficiency.”
Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands pointed out that China’s hybrid rice assistance, featuring result-oriented cooperation, sincerity, and a true partnership based on mutual trust, has become a flagship product of China’s foreign aid. He noted that rice accounts for around 45% of the total food import of the Solomon Islands, making it an issue of concern for the country. He said, “I am expecting to cooperate with China on hybrid rice, so as to achieve food self-efficiency, create jobs and prosper the local economy.”
As one of the key projects of China-Mozambique cooperation on productivity, the Wanbao Agricultural Park in Mozambique was built in July 2011. As explained by Maria Gustava, Ambassador of Mozambique to China, around 20,000 hectares of hybrid rice have been planted in southern Mozambique under the project, and the per hectare output of rice has been increased from its original 1.5 tons to 8 tons. Local people are now looking forward to more such projects in Mozambique. She said that Mozambique is committed to strengthening bilateral cooperation on agriculture and food security with China, as well as consolidating and advancing the China-Mozambique strategic partnership.
A theme exhibition organised by CICOS, MARA was also displayed at the forum. The exhibition has four sections, namely Hybrid Rice in China, China's Efforts to "Secure its Rice Bowl", China's Agricultural Aid to Ensure Global Food Security, and China's Endeavor to Build a Human Community with a Shared Future.
Distance can never set people with common ideals apart. Confronted with the complicated international landscape, China will continue to forge synergy with other countries to strengthen cooperation on food security and poverty reduction, with the aim to make greater contributions toward the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and a world free from hunger and poverty.