Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Young African researchers seek inspiration from China tour

Strolling in a botanical garden in Wuhan, capital city of central China’s Hubei Province, Lucienne Human came across a new technology that could solve problems with water hyacinths, an invasive plant that has bothered his peer researchers in South Africa for a long time.

The new technology developed by Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, allows water hyacinths to be controlled and shifted into organic fuel, according to Wang Qingfeng, deputy director of the garden.

As a biogeochemist, Lucienne paid close attention to the new technology.

“We have the same problems, water hyacinths damage our native plants and block the rivers with their rapid growth. I hope we will have the chance to cooperate with Wuhan Botanical Garden to limit the spread of invasive species,” he said.

Lucienne and 24 other young researchers and officials from 18 African countries were recently invited to the China InnoTour for African Young Scientists, co-sponsored by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The new technology for controlling water hyacinths has been rolled out on a small scale in Africa by the Sino-Africa Joint Research Center (SAJOREC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, according to Wang Qingfeng, head of the center.

Wuhan Botanical Garden, as the main implementer of SAJOREC, has participated in cooperation between China and Africa in multiple fields since the establishment of the center in 2013.

In the past six years, SAJOREC, headquartered in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya, has put forward more than 48 joint research programs focusing on biodiversity investigation, pathogenic microorganism detection, geographic science and remote sensing, high-yield and high-quality crop cultivation demonstration and land and water resources management.

So far, SAJOREC has provided scholarships to over 149 students from Africa to pursue master’s or PhD degrees, most of whom are from Kenya. Over 250 scientists and senior technicians from 15 African countries have been trained through the organization, which offers 22 training courses and seminars.

The young Africans also visited Tsinghua University, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Wuhan National Biological Industry Base (Biolake) and other research institutes and cultural sites in Beijing and Hubei Province.

Also on the tour, Sergio Pereira, assistant researcher of Mozambique’s Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Vocational Training, said he was glad to visit Hubei.

In 2009, Sergio joined the China-Mozambique agriculture demonstration center financed by Hubei, which left him impressed.

“Along with Chinese scientists, I helped farmers learn the instruction and import materials, and the demonstration center is still working for the food safety in Mozambique,” Sergio said.

After visiting Huazhong Agriculture University, Sergio spoke highly of China’s Green Super Rice (GSR) project in Africa.

“Chinese varieties have a higher yield than ours and are quite successful,” Sergio said.

GSR are new rice varieties bred by Chinese agriculture scientists for developing Asian and African countries to reduce hunger and increase the income of farmers. Mou Tongmin, a rice genetic and breeding scientist in Huazhong Agriculture University, the team leader of the GSR project in Mozambique, has been to the country seven times, almost once a year since GSR started to be tested in Mozambique in 2009.

GSR varieties can produce high and stable yields with less chemical fertilizers, pesticides and water. In addition, they are more tolerant to pests, diseases, drought, salinity, submergence and other abiotic or biotic stresses, Mou told the visitors.

Under the same cultivating conditions, GRS varieties can make an increase in production of 20 to 30 percent than Mozambican local varieties.

“The local farmers told me the rice is tastier than the corn and cassava they used to live on,” Mou said.

Sergio hopes that he will participate more in other China-Mozambique agriculture collaboration programs in the future.

On a visit to Biolake, a multifunctional intelligent medical examination equipment attracted Antony Yiaile’s attention.

As a pharmacist from Masai Mara University in Kenya, Yiaile expressed his expectation of collaboration with China,

“The similar medical device in our country has very simple functions. I hope one day I can see efficient equipment like this in our hospitals.”

“Chinese cooperating with us is professional, it can provide cheap drugs and cheap resources for those in need,” said Yiaile when visiting Yichang Humanwell Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd, which boasts Asia’s biggest production base of stupefacient drugs.

Partnered with the China-Africa Development Fund, Humanwell built a large infusion and medicinal syrup production plant in Mali in 2009 with an annual production capacity of 30 million bottles of syrup and 40 million bottles of infusion, putting an end to the country’s inability to produce medicines.

“The local people like a sweet flavour, so we changed the dosage form of domestic medicine into syrup to meet the needs of African customers,” said Fu Yigang, the president assistant of Humanwell.

“We have seen from this tour what China has and what China can offer to African countries. I cannot wait to tell our government what we have learned here and what we have planned for the future after return,” said Mucktarr Darboe, an official with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology of The Gambia.

“We look forward to more exchange chances and more science and tech cooperation between China and Africa in the future.”

During the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in 2018, China announced eight initiatives to run for the next three years and beyond aimed at building a closer China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.

As one of the eight initiatives, China-Africa innovation cooperation center is under construction jointly by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, the government of Hubei province and Beijing, according to Du Yun, the deputy director of Hubei Provincial Science and Technology Department.

“Supported by the innovation cooperation center, more opportunities are expected to be created for China-Africa exchanges and cooperation,” Du said.

Source Xinhua

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