Tropical fruit a new front in China's African aid

Updated: 2012-08-31 17:12


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SANYA -- Though only a narrow belt of China experiences tropical weather, the technology it uses to grow and process tropical fruit may contribute to the country's thriving cooperation with Africa.

During a workshop held from August 23 to September 19 on tropical fruit processing and utilization, Chinese experts said the country is ready to aid the largely tropical continent using relevant technology.

The workshop saw officials and experts from 14 African countries in the tropical zone, including Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea and Mali, visit a "noni" farm in the city of Sanya, located in south China's Hainan province, on Thursday.

The noni, though foul-smelling, is said to be effective in lowering blood sugar levels and treating some forms of cancer.

"I come here to learn about noni and will take my new planting skills back home," said Regina Omomuan Edu Mibuy, an agricultural engineer at the Ministry of Agriculture of Equatorial Guinea.

Siaka Dlallo, an official from Mali's Ministry of Industry and Commerce, said he will evaluate the market potential of noni and consider further cooperation with Chinese companies.

Dlallo said he hopes China can send experts and technicians to his country.

China is now Africa's largest trading partner, as well as the continent's top source of foreign direct investment and agricultural technologies.

Officials said China has set up 25 agricultural demonstration centers and trained more than 4,000 agricultural technicians in Africa since 2006.

"This shows that the model for China's African aid is changing, " said He Wenping, a researcher on African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He said apart from infrastructure building, China is now placing more focus on helping African countries build their own talent pools.

The Chinese government has said it will launch the "African Talents Program" to train 30,000 personnel in various sectors, as well as offer 18,000 scholarships and build training facilities in Africa, within three years.

Huang Yutong, vice head of the China National Research Institute for the Food and Fermentation Industries, said China is willing to aid Africa by providing technical agricultural training.

"China has advanced technology and a huge market, which can combine with noni production in African countries," Huang said.