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The Relevance of Chinese Agricultural Technologies for African Smallholder Farmers: Agricultural Technology Research in China


Prepared for the African Agricultural Technology Foundation
By Ron Sandrey and Hannah Edinger
Published by Centre for Chinese Studies, University of Stellenbosch
Date: April 2009

A lifetime would have to be spent to really assess exactly what parts of the actual technological package are the most crucial, as this is an ever-evolving process. The challenge for Africa is to operationalise technologies in the absence of much of the necessary flanking support (policies, prices, infrastructure, agricultural credit etc). But what are these actual technologies? Sometimes it is hard to assess as to whether the technologies are Chinese developed or imported – but this should not matter. The crucial question is – what has worked for China that could be applicable to Africa?

The study team considers that water and soil related technologies offer the best Chinese examples for transfer to Africa. Africa is generally a water-challenged land, and soil degradation is a problem. Here China offers packages that can be applied, especially when focusing on small-scale farmers. This includes water saving and augmenting techniques, tillage and planting methods, soil enhancing methods such as mulching, and the maximisation of fertilizer usage by soil testing and application techniques. For the purposes of this research we have not studied mechanisation techniques, and only touched upon rural energy sources, but consider there are some lessons here to be learned. Similarly, we feel that Chinese aquaculture has much to offer Africa.

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