MY CHINA EXPERIENCE 20-YEARS AGO (我的中国经历) — Ogun Agric Commissioner, Odedina - AMEBO NEWSPAPERS NG.


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MY CHINA EXPERIENCE 20-YEARS AGO (我的中国经历) — Ogun Agric Commissioner, Odedina

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In 2000 (exactly 22 years ago), as a lecturer/consultant/farm manager at Federal College of Agriculture Akure (where incidentally I started my career as a student, NYSC member and later as a staff), the then Provost, Dr. A.O. Adetoro (of blessed memory) nominated me for a training at Beijing Vegetable Research Centre (BVRC) which was fully funded by the United Nations and the Government of China. I took part in the training alongside participants from Europe, Asia, Africa and islands with connection to North and South America.  

I travelled through France, and the journey from Lagos to Paris was sufficiently familiar with the usual Nigerians/Africans on every Lagos-Europe bound trip. However the first surprise came on the long trip (12hours) from Paris to Beijing where I was probably the only black skinned passenger on the Boeing Plane. Two things were further shocking: First, Chinese passengers left their seats one after the other to catch a glimpse of me; secondly, one passenger actually made a sign to me to touch my skin, which he did and checked his palm afterwards. They were pleasant and tried to communicate with me throughout the trip. I felt the first insight into how Chinese hospitality would be like.

No one was waiting for me at the Airport which was nothing to worry about, as I had with me a detailed description of the address, which I handed over to the taxi driver who charged me handsomely and took me to the Research Center, where I met Mr. Hu, our Coordinator and other international students.

Agriculture in China, then, was what it ought to be- multidimensional, tech structured and reflecting a society that liked farm and food with a culture of restaurants with many course menus.

As far back as over two decades ago (22 years), Soilless Culture, Intensification, Highly Productive crop end, Integrated Agriculture, Small holding Productive farms were part of the feasts of Chinese Agriculture. Our training in China was like going to the moon to learn, like impossibility- The Chinese Cabbage, Oral Vaccine Tomato, Value Addition and Value Chain Coordination, etc.

It is heartening to see that few of these are now surfacing in my home country, and finding their ways as part of Agricultural opportunities in Nigeria, at the time of renewed “focus” on Agriculture where over 190 million people are to be fed, clothed, provided with jobs, health and also with the mandate of making farming easy for the mother land. China then had to feed 10times as much as the people in Nigeria with other related expected roles of Agriculture.

When I later became the desk officer of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Regional Multi-Service Extension Centre (REMSEC) of the Federal Government/Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, being overseen by the World Bank Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP) and the South South (Chinese) Corporation, fully supported by the Government of China, I had to work with five Chinese experts in Fish Cage Culture, Tree Crops Nursery and Biogas Technology, and Bamboo Technology. The Chinese language I learnt at Beijing Vegetable Research Centre (BVRC) came handy. The most popular one being “wo ai ni” (我爱你) is what everyone must learn and live by.

The Beijing experience is not without the fun part of it; the disco parties, tours on cable cars, the visit to the Great Wall, the Tiananmen Square, and others.

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