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China Technological Innovations
As a highly populated country, China is home to many different demographics, when it comes to income distribution. Poverty in China frequents the rural areas, where development is slower when compared with metropolitan cities. Despite the country’s massive population, more than 82 million citizens are no longer impoverished. In that same vein, the poverty rate of China decreased from around 10% to just less than 2%. As a result of some technological innovations in China, the country has seen improvements in poverty rates.

Generating Synergy

An initiative done by China to reduce poverty is through increasing synergies within China’s markets. By connecting public and private businesses — small and hard-earning jobs like farming can gain more income. Not only does creating partnerships with different companies increase the flow of money — but it is also helping more jobs become available for struggling citizens. Moreover, it boosts the overall productivity of each organization involved. In 2019, the cooperation between China and the E.U. made over 3 trillion yuan (nearly $450 billion), an increase of nearly 10% from the previous year. Creating synergy has benefited China’s economy with new jobs and income sources — especially for low-earning workers.

Farmer Field Schools

Farmers in rural China are among the most vulnerable in the country, as they are the most impoverished. Farmer Field School is a 2019 initiative that provides educational and informative training for small farmers. These forms of training include teaching social skills and business management. Those immersed in this training reached a new profit of more than 15,000 yuan (more than $2,000). This figure represents an increase of around 105% compared with those who did not participate in the training. Farmer Field Schools have reinforced China’s rural farmers’ decision-making skills when it comes to agriculture. Furthermore, they have helped reduce the level of poverty seen among rural farmers by increasing their earnings with newfound knowledge.

BN Vocational School

BN Vocational School (BNVS) is an education program that is free of charge for the underprivileged youth. This organization focuses on generational poverty and how to help end it. As a vocational school, BNVS sets students up for success by equipping them with the skills they will need in their future career paths. Nearly 7,000 disadvantaged children have received education from BNVS via the 11 schools operated. BNVS helps its students escape poverty by nurturing their education to help them secure jobs in the future.

INOHERB Cosmetics

INOHERB Cosmetics is a Chinese company that specializes in herbal medicine: in particular, the Rhodiola plant. As a country that loves herbal medicine, Rhodiola became a product of high-demand — giving farmers an increased new workload. INOHERB proposed a policy that would pay farmers additional wages if they successfully grew the plant. With more than 8,000 seedlings planted and a successful survival rate of more than 80%, farmers were granted an additional 30,000 RMB (around $4,500) on top of their original income. INOHERB Cosmetic’s unique approach towards alleviating poverty has benefited more than 1,200 farmers and continues to mobilize and support impoverished workers.

Innovations in China Paving the Way Forward

With proven results, China’s efforts towards poverty relief has provided impoverished people with a second chance of increasing their incomes. Innovations in China have taken on distinct forms, such as educational initiatives and creating public and private business synergies. These innovational initiatives have certainly benefited the country and with a little more help and support from continued initiatives — more rural citizens can continue to do better.

Karina Wong
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in Burundi

Burundi is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region in East Africa. It is one of the poorest nations in the world, with almost 90 percent of its population living in rural areas. Most of its citizens rely on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood, meaning that working towards sustainable agriculture in Burundi is a crucial goal.

There are several ongoing projects that aim to foster sustainable agriculture in Burundi. For instance, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is involved in an integrated project to strengthen people’s livelihoods through sustainable and efficient agricultural intensification. The FAO is working closely with the Agricultural Research Institute of Burundi and the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement on this project in order to “help communities living in these watersheds to better manage their land and improve their means of food production and nutrition.”

The primary way this project is achieving its goal is through establishing and maintaining farmer field schools that teach farmers good farming practices. For instance, in an attempt to improve agricultural production in a sustainable manner, the integrated aquaculture and agriculture system established in Mwaro province provides an opportunity to produce crops, fish and small livestock in a relatively small area. Both men and women farmers attend these farmer field schools to receive training in production management. A facilitator guides these self-identified trainees with the goal of increasing capacity development through practices that promote sustainable agriculture in Burundi, including composting techniques, edible mushroom cultivation, fish pond management and erosion control.

This project has already managed to achieve several successes. For instance, due to this project, nearly 200 households established micro-gardens in urban and peri-urban places, thereby creating opportunities for smallholders to produce despite the very limited land availability. Additionally, the project also facilitated the “reinforcement of erosion control and watershed stabilization techniques using integrated forestry practices, perennial forage grasses and field mapping.” As a result of this project, farmers have also been able to plant improved seeds of staple crops in their fields and the community has planted more than 49,000 fruit tree saplings.

Several issues threaten sustainable agriculture in Burundi. For instance, Burundi faces land degradation and soil impoverishment due to high populations, deforestation, overgrazing, loss of habitats and water scarcity. The country has taken several significant measures to address and improve soil fertility such as erosion control measures, riverbank protection, forestry plantation, agroforestry plantation and management. In fact, the country now has a “national framework investment in sustainable land management and new laws on land, forestry and biodiversity conservation.”

Another project called Supporting Agricultural Productivity in Burundi (PAPAB), led by the IFDC, Alterra Wageningen UR, Oxfam Novib and ZOA aims to sustainably increase food production and improve the food security of at least 480,000 farming families in Burundi. By taking a participatory approach centered on integrated management, PAPAB promotes market-oriented and sustainable agricultural techniques. Recognizing that smallholders produce little to meet their own needs, let alone those of the market, PAPAB works to introduce efficient and well-integrated farming practices. It plans on using techniques such as improving farmers’ access to fertilizers and farmer-to-farmer knowledge transfer and collaboration in order to increase efficiency and production.

Burundi is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the current political instability in the country only adds to its challenges. Malnutrition in the country is one of the highest in the world. Sustainable agriculture is one of its biggest challenges and an important goal. Hopefully, these projects will continue to improve and promote sustainable agriculture in Burundi.

– Mehruba Chowdhury

Photo: Flickr