China has lessons to offer Africa on food production

The Citizen (Tanzania)
Content provided by Asianet-Pakistan

Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the current drought a national disaster and appealed for international help.

The presidential appeal reminded me of a story about a traveller journeying through a foreign land who encounters a stranger along the way in dire need of assistance.

Set upon by thieves and left to die, all those who passed by turned away, unwilling to help.

The foreigner, touched by the man’s plight, and finding himself able to help, gave him first aid, transported him, and paid for his medical care, proving himself a true “friend in need”.

Kenya, set upon by the drought, finds herself in the position of the injured man on the roadside, and China the foreign passer-by.

The Chinese government has pledged to provide drought relief to Kenya to the tune of $23 million (Sh2.3bn), which is expected to feed for about one month more than one million hardest hit by drought. The amount is enough to buy more than 21 tonnes of food.

The donation is due to arrive in April and is the largest that China has given to Kenya in history. But it is supplemented by other contributions made by Chinese companies.

The private companies’ donations remain an important part of their corporate social responsibility to Kenya. Interestingly, the food donations from the people of China exceeds the $23 million declared by their government.

The response by the people of China is part of a long tradition of support to African countries. In 2011 for instance, China gave to Kenya food aid to the tune of $20 million, while the larger Horn of Africa, where more than 12.4 million people were facing starvation, also benefited.

China is one of the most generous food donors in the world, an amazing fact given that the country stopped receiving food aid from the World Food Programme in 2005.

That same year, China became the third-largest food donor in the world, offering not just aid but lessons worth learning.

One of these lessons relate to how China, the most populous country in the world, is able to feed its own population, now approaching the 1.4 billion mark, and help other countries.

It is reassuring that China is committed to working with Kenya to take such lessons to heart and revolutionise its agriculture so that it can come out self-sufficient and in a position to feed other countries in need.

Kenya has the capacity to do this, gifted as she is with fertile land and underground water.

This assistance is part of China’s revolution in Africa – a revolution that is anchored on affordability and delivery. The president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, recently stated: “In conducting China’s relations with African countries, we adhere to the principles of sincerity and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests”.

China is not a new friend to Kenya. The two allies have interacted on development projects for a long while. It is refreshing to see that it is not all business it is an ally with a heart for the people.

As Chinese people, we believe in Kahlil Gibran’s view that “Your friend is your needs answered”.


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