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Tanzania receives much-needed Chinese assistance to boost agriculture

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

10-09-2015 16:58 BJT

By Dr. Miroslav Atanasov, professor at Remnin University

The United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa is located between the Indian Ocean Coast and African Great Lakes Region, which borders eight African countries with a population of about 47 million.

Tanzania's current capital is Dodoma, but its former one, Dar es Salaam, remains the largest city, principal port, and commercial center. The country has a wealth of natural resources including gas, gold, coal, and diamonds. 

Tanzania's natural landscape is rich and diverse. Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, is located in the northern region, while the continent’s lowest point is at the floor of Lake Tanganyika on the eastern side.

About 38 percent of its land area is protected for conservation. With 16 National Parks, including the Serengeti Plain and the Ngorongoro, the country is one of the major tourist destinations in Africa, but it also attracts an international criminal element of elephant poachers and ivory smugglers.

Tanzania's economy remains heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for about a quarter of the national GDP, 85 percent of its exports, and 50 percent of the workforce. The main food crop is maize followed by cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, bananas, rice, and millet.

The largest cash crop is sugar, followed by cotton, cashew nuts, coffee, tobacco, sisal, and tea. The largest meat product is beef, followed by lamb, chicken and pork. Only a small portion of the country’s irrigable land is used for irrigation farming.

China has had a long history of cooperation with the country, which began when the two states of Zanzibar and Tanganyika had broken away from colonial rule and had united under the name, "Tanzania."

One of the biggest infrastructure projects of China in Africa is the TAZARA railway, constructed in the early 1970s that connects the port of Dar es Salaam with the landlocked country of Zambia. The 1860 km-long railway was built with China’s financial assistance, technology, and 56,000 Chinese-native workers.

It stood as a powerful gesture of solidarity when both Zambia and Tanzania were following the socialist model. 

China’s relationship with Tanzania remains strong and vibrant.  Between the years 2000 to 2011, there were approximately 62 major development finance projects undertaken by China in the country; for example, a $US400 million Chinese loan was given to the Kiwira coal mine. Another one was assistance on construction of the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium.

More projects have been undertaken. China has made plans to construct a 150 acre logistics hub near Dar es Salaam port to help facilitate booming trade between China and Africa.

Chinese companies were recently awarded $US9 billion contracts for new rail lines in Tanzania, which will assist economic development, especially for land-locked countries in the heart of the continent. 

In May 2015, China pledged to phase out the domestic production and sale of ivory products. Conservationists welcomed the move, which could halt the recent decline of Tanzania’s elephant population.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's first foreign visit after assuming office in March 2013 was to Russia from where he directly flew to Tanzania. 

China's key role in the modernization of agriculture in Africa is particularly interesting. In 2009, China and Tanzania had established the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank.

The Chinese government set aside $US500 million for the institution, which has the potential for offering crucial assistance to Tanzanian farmers. China has donated much needed modern machinery to the nation for tilling, planting, and harvesting. Meanwhile, over 30 Chinese-owned sisal farms are operating in the country.

The Chongqing Sino-Tanzania Agriculture Development Company opened the Demonstration Centre of China Agriculture Technology in the Dakawa, Morogoro region in 2012 to provide training and consultation to Tanzanian agricultural experts, officials, technicians, and thousands of local farmers.

Chinese technology for cultivating crops such as rice and maize, and the use of Chinese hybrid rice has boosted the quantity and quality of African produce. One local farm in Dakawa could increase rice yields by 40 percent after adopting Chinese methods. 

China is building similar demonstration centers in10 other African nations as well. The Chinese Agriculture Ministry has over 30 cooperation agreements with Africa. There are many African students studying at China Agricultural University preparing to return and to implement Chinese know-how in their home countries.

Undoubtedly, China's agricultural assistance in Tanzania and other parts of Africa will play a crucial role in alleviating poverty and food-shortages on the continent.




( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.





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