China's hybrid rice yields hope for Madagascar farmers
An increasing number of farmers in Madagascar are growing hybrid rice from China.
The high-yield crops are helping the island country to fight against food shortages and battle poverty.
Hybrid rice grown in Madagascar.[Photo: courtesy of Yuan’s International Agricultural Development Co., Ltd.]
Hu Yuefang has been promoting China's hybrid rice in Madagascar for over ten years. The Chinese agricultural expert has been to almost all of the rice production areas on the island over the years, demonstrating to local farmers the traits of hybrid rice, such as high productivity and local adaptability, as well as resistance against worms and diseases.
"In order to acquaint farmers with the advantages of hybrid rice, we have to grow it locally and demonstrate it to them. After seeing the advantages of the hybrid rice by themselves, they will accept it, buy the seeds and grow it," Hu says.
Agricultural expert Hu Yuefang with Yuan’s International Agricultural Development Co., Ltd. works to promote hybrid rice in Madagascar for over ten years. [Photo: China Plus/Gao Junya]
Different from many other African countries which mainly grow maize and cassava, rice is the staple food of Madagascar and is cultivated all over the island. However, the degeneration of local rice varieties has resulted in years of low yield. Average local production is about 3 tons per hectare and the island country is facing a severe food shortage of 200,000 tons annually.
Since being introduced to Madagascar in 2007, hybrid rice has been steadily contributing to increasing the overall food production in the country.
Hybrid rice is harvested in Madagascar.[Photo: courtesy of Yuan’s International Agricultural Development Co., Ltd.]
Hybrid rice cultivation has reached over 30,000 hectares with a yield of more than 8 tons per hectare so far.
Yuan's International Agricultural Development Co from Hunan Province, the birthplace of China's hybrid rice, has been engaged in the promotion of hybrid rice in Madagascar for over ten years.
Li Yanping is in charge of the company's hybrid rice project in Madagascar and suggests hybrid rice has quite a promising future in the country.
Li Yanping, who’s in charge of the hybrid rice project of Yuan’s International Agricultural Development Co., Ltd in Madagascar suggests hybrid rice has quite a promising future in Madagascar. [Photo: China Plus/Gao Junya]
"We can say that the whole industry chain of hybrid rice in Madagascar is well developed. We are breeding locally. We are growing the seeds and selling the seeds to the local market. We provide high-yield demonstrations and training classes. Over 100 people are trained every year. And the hybrid rice cultivation area are growing with the expansion of 2 thousand to 3 thousand hectares per year," Li says.
Mamisoa Ramananjanahary is the national coordinator of the South-South Cooperation Project at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
He says hybrid rice is playing a big role in increasing rice yield and ensuring food security.
He notes that the government is committed to further expanding the hybrid rice cultivation scale.
Mamisoa Ramananjanahary, national coordinator of the South-South Cooperation Project at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in Madagascar, takes an interview with China Radio International on August 14, 2019. [Photo: China Plus/Gao Junya]
"The government of Madagascar is planning to become self-sufficient in grain by 2020. It also aims to become able to export food to other countries by 2025. The cultivation of hybrid rice is helping the government to realize the development goals. We want to enhance our cooperation with China, further expand the growing areas of hybrid rice and increase our food production. By this means, more people can benefit from it," Ramananjanahary says.
China has also set up a hybrid rice research center in Madagascar to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa.