By Victoria Ojeme
The Chinese government has donated an agriculture demonstration centre worth N2.8 billion to the Nigerian government aimed at replicating the successes of the country in lifting 700 million people out of poverty through farming in Nigeria.
At the event held at the China-Nigeria Agricultural Demonstration Centre located in Bwari, Abuja, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun, said investment in agriculture is very important not only for Nigeria as a country but the African continent.
According to him, China has been able to eradicate extreme poverty through its investment in agriculture and lifted over 700 million people out of poverty.
He said that in China, the government is now embarking on the second centenary goal after the success of the first centenary goal which ended in 2021 adding that it means the eradication of extreme poverty and building of a moderately prosperous society.
“This is very important for the Chinese way and I am thinking that the two countries have no fundamental problems and how can we work together. We have lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty, Nigeria you have 200 million people and 100 million people living below the poverty line. So this is my job, my great concern and effort trying to do things for Nigeria and the most important thing is agriculture.
“In the Chinese experience without agriculture the whole society cannot be stable but without industry we cannot get rich in the nation,” he said.
Jianchun said he believes that China is in the second centenary goal and hopes in the second coming 20 years by the year 2049 the anniversary of the founding of New China will translate to even greater successes for the country’s agriculture.
“I am so sure that China-Nigeria can also build a strong prosperous Nigeria in 20 years. This is not about a slogan but our vision as two great nations working together from the agriculture sector to industry”, Cui asserted.
Cui explained that security, electricity and agriculture are his interests in Nigeria since resumption as the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, one year and eight months ago.
“My biggest interest here in Nigeria is first security, so we are working in the Nigeria military sectors and law enforcement, what we are doing is to improve the current situation. And second very important priority is about electricity, so we would like to provide Chinese solutions to Nigeria’s side and thirdly, a very important pillar of this country is agriculture and food security”, he said.
According to him, the centre will provide and transfer advanced technology to Nigerian youths and women as entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector.
He said: “I want to let you know the most important is about investment in agriculture, this is really very important not only for Nigeria, but also for the whole African continent. So today’s programme here is about technology, it is about investment, high yield state, mechanisation, technology.
“So the Chinese government supports Nigeria to develop modernised agriculture, we need machines, we need technology, we need high yield silt. So this demonstration centre is a really good project and I do believe that the demonstration will not only give the opportunity to farmers, but also government officials that will deepen the broader relationship”.
On his part, the Nigerian minister of State Finance , Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, commended the Chinese government for the laudable initiative and said they have been a credible partner in the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
The minister, who was represented by Hajiya Fatima Sheji, in the ministry, said the project is coming at a time when the present administration is working to improve Nigeria’s capacity on agriculture to meet international standards.
“The bilateral economic cooperation between Nigeria and China started in 1971 and the two countries have maintained a very cordial relationship which has brought about so many developmental activities in Nigeria spanning across federal, state and local governments.
“The Chinese have been a credible and reliable partner in the support to the socioeconomic development of Nigeria amongst which are several projects that are in partnership with federal and state government and have offered so many capacity development programmes for Nigeria public servants”, he said.
“The skills acquired at the centre will also aid local farmers in maintaining modern agricultural production technology that will be sustainable over the years.
“The centre also touches on the aspect of agriculture value chains and it addresses food insecurity, increases foreign earnings through export mechanisation, quality of seedlings and use of technology for information and research. It will also help to curb export rejection of Nigeria agricultural products in foreign markets.
“Established for the training of youth and women on agriculture processing and multiplication of roots and tuber crops, good tissue culture, the centre will undoubtedly boost the agriculture sector in Nigeria at the end of which it will pave the way for self-employment and infrastructure development”.
The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, who was represented by the Acting Permanent Secretary, Udoh Daniels, said that China and Nigeria share a long standing good friendship and cooperation which has led to the witnessing of rapid and remarkable achievements among the two countries in the area of bilateral cooperation in economy, trade and other fields of life.
According to him, “Nigeria is noted to be the largest leading agricultural economy and therefore has a pressing need for an agricultural technology and development centre especially for the youth. This is what the Chinese government has done that led to the establishment of the centre that is even handed over today.
“The issue of this project dated July 10, 2013, while the actual construction which had started in 2021and was completed on 10th October 2022, after series of documentations.
“It may interest you to note that the facilities at this centre are of world class to include agricultural technological training and research centres, processing and exhibition entries, farmland demonstration areas amongst others”.
Shehuri explained that the objectives of the project is “to provide and transfer advanced technology to the Nigerian youths as an enterprise, it is hoped that the centre will train local farmers using advanced technology to enhance their productivity and wellbeing.
“In addition, the centre will be fully integrated with local agricultural production to enable agricultural technicians to adapt faster. The centre will help the beneficiaries to move from small scale production model to specialised production agricultural model and also for excessive Farming to intensive production”.
He assured that the Nigerian government will make good use of the centre for a more productive agricultural sector and urged both countries to continue to work together in unison for the advancement of the two countries.