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To address the root causes of vulnerability and to increase the productivity and market access of smallholder farmers, the Government of Zimbabwe requested China’s support. China’s experience on empowering small-holder farmers, post-harvest loss management and rural transformation are highly relevant for Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe will be the first pilot country of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) China Centre of Excellence’s programme called “Demonstration in Africa by Africans”, which aims at extending China’s affordable and applicable agricultural technologies to aspirational lead smallholder farmers in Africa.
The “Demonstration in Africa by Africans” programme will focus on (1) developing local agricultural value chains; (2) applying emerging information technology; (3) sharing modern management techniques for agricultural business and markets, and (4) setting up short-cycled, effective and efficient agriculture businesses for smallholders based on local resources.
The “Demonstration in Africa by Africans” programme fosters the cross-country transfer of technological solutions and best practices for smallholder farmers through on-site trainings and experts deployment.
In the specific case of Zimbabwe, smallholder farmers receive on-site training in China and Chinese experts will then be deployed to Zimbabwe to support the practical application of China’s solutions on the ground.
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Partnerships for the Goals
Zimbabwe is a low-income country, where agriculture accounts for 20% of national GDP: 98 percent of farmers are smallholders, who work 73% of the land . Challenges for smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe include low productivity, limited access to markets and a lack of competitiveness. Limited extension services, frequent adverse weather conditions and poor access to finance and inputs exacerbate the situation.
To address the root causes of vulnerability and increase the productivity and market access of smallholder farmers, the Government of Zimbabwe requested China’s support because of its experience in empowering smallholder farmers, post-harvest loss management and rural transformation.
The WFP China Centre of Excellence coordinated a guided tour and ministerial dialogue in 2016 for Zimbabwean and Chinese senior officials. As a result, the first pilot of an innovative, Chinese-supported South-South Cooperation programme called “Demonstration in Africa by Africans” is being designed and expected to be launched in 2018.
Over the past 35 years, China has experienced a significant economic transformation and made remarkable progress in poverty reduction and social development. Using nine percent of the world’s arable land, China has been able to feed more than 20 percent of the world’s population. Modern technology – machinery, fertilizer and irrigation – and policy changes have been credited as fundamental drivers of China’s agricultural growth over the past three decades.
The “Demonstration in Africa by Africans” programme aims at extending China’s affordable and applicable agricultural technologies to smallholder farmers in Africa through technical demonstrations. It will support smallholder farmers through in-field technical demonstrations to improve their business practices and foster a new generation of lead farmers.
The programme equips aspirational lead farmers to transfer their newly acquired knowledge and help fellow farmers increase their production and incomes, by applying a “train-the-trainer” approach:
1) Selected African farmers receive in-field training (on-job coaching) for one production season in China;
2) Necessary agricultural inputs or seed funds are provided to lead farmers. They will also receive support to establish their demonstration households;
3) Chinese agricultural experts are deployed to the selected partnering host countries to conduct on-site instruction. Chinese experts will provide support to enable a local farming culture and carry out technical demonstrations and trainings;
4) The trained lead farmers share their new expertise with farmers in their communities and regions through the “train-the-trainer” approach. This way, they pass access to adapted agricultural technology and good management practices, including marketing skills for small-holder farmers for selected value chains.
The “Demonstration in Africa by Africans” programme targets young smallholder farmers and core members of farmers’ organizations who are educated, aspirational and willing to improve their skills. They will join training sessions in China to learn about effective technologies and agricultural business management. The programme will target 5 demonstration sites and 10 young leading smallholder farmers per partner country.
China Ministry of Agriculture
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Nanjing Research Institute for Agricultural Mechanization of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture
Women’s University in Africa
Anhui or Hunan Provincial Agriculture Committee
Zimbabwe Ministry of Agriculture
Mechanization and Irrigation Development
Zimbabwe Ministry of Public Service
Labour and Social Welfare
WFP China Center of Excellence