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Remarks of By H.E. Zhang Yiming at the Emergency Food Aid Distribution Ceremony
2020/03/12

Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation;

Hon. Dr. Samuel K. Mbambo, Governor of Kavango East Region;

Hon. Mushinga Shinduvi, SWAPO coordinator of Kavango East Region;

Mr. Bai Mankay Sankoh, WFP Representative in Namibia;

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning!

First of all, I would like to thank Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah for making this special trip to attend the emergency food aid distribution ceremony with me. Namibia suffered the worst drought in decades last year. As Namibia’s most sincere friend, China was one of the earliest countries to respond to Namibian government’s call for emergency assistance in drought. After the Red Cross Society of China offered 150,000 USD emergency humanitarian cash assistance, the Chinese government provided 1 million USD for emergency food assistance through World Food Programme (WFP) under the framework of China’s South-South Cooperation Fund, aiming at providing necessary living materials such as flour, cooking oil and salt for 74,400 people in Kavango East and West which suffered the most severely. Meanwhile, upon the initiative of the Chinese Embassy, Chinese community in Namibia donated 2 million USD to mitigate the effects of drought. All the above activities shows the true friendship of the Chinese people to Namibians.

I saw trees and bushes along the roads thriving on my way here and I also noticed that Mahangu plants are growing very well, I can’t help feeling very happy and relieved from the bottom of my heart. The abundant rain of this year not only nourishes a large area of farmland in Kavango East, but also indicates a good upcoming harvest. In Chinese culture, we believe that a good rain after a long-time drought is one of the best fortunes, which is a reward by the nature to persevering people in difficulties.

I have visited Kavango East Region for many times. It has very advantageous environment for developing agriculture, in particular the fertile soil and abundant water. However, “living at the mercy of climate” is still the patern here. The drought last year manifested the importance and urgency of developing sustainable agriculture and improving food security. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you Chinese government’s experience in agriculture development and poverty alleviation.

“Food is the primary need of human beings”. As a country with a long history of agriculture and the largest rural population in the world, the Chinese government has always highly emphasized the Issues of agriculture, rural areas and farmers, and makes it one of the basic national policies to meet the population’s basic needs and ensure food security. To provide enough food was a big challenge faced by the Chinese people shortly after the founding of PRC. In my childhood memories, my mother worked hard in the farmland all the year for the livelihood of my family. Within 70 years, China has managed to secure food for the whole country which account for 20% population of the whole population of the world. China is now producing a quarter of total global food with only 7% agricultural land of the globe. Today, China has transformed its original state of “eating insufficiently” into “eating sufficiently”, and even into “eating well”.

Rural population is an important factor for all developing countries. Only when the majority of farmers become rich can poverty be fundamentally resolved. With the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has launched a number of targeted poverty alleviation measures, such as transferring technology, cultivating enterprises, promoting ecommerce, developing tourism and maintaining good ecological system, with the aim of ensuring that the rural poor people have enough food and clothing and have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and housing. Remarkable achievements have been made by executing these policies.

Since China adopted the reform and opening up policy 40 years ago, the poverty population in its rural areas has dropped by 750 million. Between 2013 and 2018, the number of the rural poor decreased by about 12 million annually, 5 times the population of Namibia. This year, China is working hard in eradicating absolute poverty and to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Upon realizing this target, China will achieve the goals set in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of the schedule, which is of great significance to both China and the world. In fact, there is no other countries that can lift so many people out of poverty in such a short time and there is no other ruling parties that has the gut to take poverty reduction as one of the quantizable indicators to its own governance.

As a close friend of African countries, China has always taken agricultural development and food security as priorities of our cooperation. Until the year of 2016, China had implemented almost 500 agricultural aiding programs in more than 50 African countries. At the Youth Training Center in Divundu of Kavango East region, the Chinese Embassy mobilized 1.5 thousand Namibian dollars to construct 4 Greenhouses and 1 sunshade net house. This project is producing most-needed vegetables for the local people and increasing their incomes. We have also funded the same kind of projects for Zambezi and Kavango West regions respectively. At Kalimbesa in Zambezi region, there is a rice planting base jointly set by China, Namibia and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The aforesaid programs have contributed not only to the food security of Namibia, but also its poverty alleviation and employment stimulation.

As a Chinese saying goes, it is better to teach someone how to fish rather than just giving fish. Thus, a more important goal for us to fund the Greenhouse program and rice planting base is to help the locals out of poverty and create jobs for young people and women by empowering them with agricultural skills and setting up a replicable industrial model. For the same purpose, Namibian government has done a lot. It is our common hope that in the near future, the three regions, Kavango East and West and Zambezi, could be the granary of Namibia and change the present situation that 65% food has to be imported.

Dear friends, in one week, you are going to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Independence of Namibia. It is also the time for the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Namibia. China, as Namibia’s all-weather friend and comprehensive strategic cooperative partner, is always willing to share experience and lend hands to Kavango East region and Namibia. I believe, with our joint efforts, Kavango East region will have a promising and bright future.

Thank you!

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