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Chinese expert says hybrid rice contributes to Burundi's food security

The hybrid rice that Chinese farming experts are promoting in Burundi is contributing to the east African country's food security, a Chinese expert told Xinhua on Tuesday.

XinhuaUpdated:  May 12, 2022

The hybrid rice that Chinese farming experts are promoting in Burundi is contributing to the east African country's food security, a Chinese expert told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Yang Huade, who received the award of good harvest "Cup of the Ambassador of China to Burundi 2022" from the Burundian President earlier this month, said the rice production tripled since he arrived in Burundi in 2015.

Yang said the hybrid rice yield currently ranges between 9 and 10 tonnes per hectare, more than tripled that of 2015.

Before, farmers could reap about 800,000 Burundi francs (389 U.S. dollars) per hectare, now the net profit is about 4.8 million francs, said Yang.

"I felt great pleasure when I received the award from the Burundian president. This was due, of course, to the excellent work I am doing in Burundi's agriculture sector", said Yang, the chief of the Chinese team of farming experts at the Gihanga research center.

The team is made up of 13 experts including 11 Chinese experts. Two others are Burundian nationals who are language translators.

"We imported hybrid rice from China to Burundi and we immediately had a high production to improve food security in Burundi", he said.

He added that the center also introduced a rice variety practiced in mountains which is more resistant to diseases.

According to him, the center provides supervision to 22 villages set up in 14 out of 18 Burundian provinces where rice is being cultivated.

"The center provides inputs, technology and guidelines to rice farmers," he said.

According to him, some 49 students trained by the center are supervising over 1,500 farmers who also received training in rice growing in those villages located throughout the country.

The center also trained agronomists for the Burundian environment, agriculture and livestock ministry, he said.

To increase the rice production in Burundi, he advised farmers to speed up the development of hybrid rice in low lands, not only in the Imbo region (west Burundi), but also in the Moso region (east Burundi).

He added that there is a need to grow new rice varieties with high resistance to diseases in high-altitude regions where mountain rice is grown.

He also suggested the promotion and the use of organic fertilizers to increase production.

"Working in cooperatives is also important to put strengths together. Farmers face the problem of lacking information, technology and supplies. But through cooperatives, they can address all those problems", said Yang.

He seized his opportunity to encourage rich people to take part in the farming sector.

"If you want to cultivate hybrid rice, for instance, some people have land, others have labor, others have money. Why can't you combine all those resources to increase the yield and then participants will share the benefit", said Yang.

He underlined that seeds of hybrid rice can now be produced at the research center thanks to the team of experts.

"It is possible to set up a seed center and produce qualified seeds and even export them to other countries in the near future", said Yang.

On May 2, at the celebration of the International Workers' Day in the province of Muyinga, northeast Burundi, Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye gave awards to outstanding workers and associations including Yang, for doing "great things for Burundi" in rice farming.