China joins in the development of agriculture in Cape Verde China joins in the development of agriculture in Cape Verde

China joins in the development of agriculture in Cape Verde

China joins in the development of agriculture in Cape Verde
Cape Verde, an archipelago of ten islands, nine of which are inhabited, is a small island developing state (SIDS) in West Africa that is increasingly experiencing the effects of climate change.

In 2018, a severe drought hit the country where around a quarter of the population depends on agriculture as their main income. Since then, rainfall has been rarer and more unpredictable than in previous years, leading to a significant decline in food production and loss of pastureland. Coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the important tourism sector, this situation has culminated in a spike in food insecurity across the country in 2022.

Willy Gonçalves, 29, from Santiago, the main island of Cape Verde, is the director of a nursery where he has worked since the age of nine. He has witnessed first-hand the effects of climate change on the country's agriculture.

"From 2017 we started to feel these climate changes more strongly here in Cape Verde. We started to have more pests, more difficulties and since then everything we have planted is a struggle. Before, everything we planted we could harvest, now we can't because of climate change." says the young farmer.

Like most other SIDS, Cabo Verde relies heavily on imports: 80 percent of its food is imported. This makes the country's food security vulnerable to global shocks such as conflict or disasters.

Although food security has since improved, food production and agriculture still suffer.

With climate change, soil erosion has increased and soil fertility has fallen, not to mention the explosion of plant pests in the country. Rising temperatures have made Cape Verde a hotbed in which these new pests can thrive. Fall armyworm arrived in 2017 and has since wreaked havoc on corn crops. Other formidable enemies are fruit flies, which particularly attack mango crops, and tomato worms, named after their preferred target.

Through the FAO, Cape Verde has requested assistance to combat these growing challenges. and that is exactly what China could offer, having itself overcome many of these challenges in the vastness of its own country.

“As part of our cooperation with FAO, we have a South-South partnership with China. This cooperation allows us to strengthen the capacities of our producers and technicians, to bring technology, to share knowledge and technologies between China and Cape Verde with the help of FAO." says Gilberto Silva, Minister of Agriculture and Environment.

The South-South cooperation project combines the technologies and experience of visiting countries with the needs and demands of host countries, transferring knowledge and expertise through partnerships. China is passing on to Cape Verde what it has learned in its own rural landscapes, remarkably similar to those in the interior of this small island.

The project has a group of seven Chinese experts in different fields, including pest control, soil and water management, fertilization and livestock production, and they will work closely with Cape Verdean farmers over the next three years.

"After the trials, we will establish a standard for biological pest control, which will be promoted in Cape Verde. This will significantly improve the effectiveness of large-scale crop pest control, significantly reducing yield losses caused by pests and guaranteeing an increase in the production of food and horticultural crops." explains Yanhua Zeng, a Chinese horticulture and soil expert.

Cape Verde, like many SIDS, imports the majority of its food products, including animal fodder. This makes the country highly vulnerable to market shocks that affect food and feed prices, making increasing domestic feed production an important task for the private sector.


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