January 12, 2008
H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson-sirleaf, President of Republic of Liberia
Hon. Minister of Agriculture
Hon. Minister of Public Works
Distinguished government officials
Chinese Agricultural experts
Members of NGOs
Friends from the Media
I wish to begin by remarks my extending warm congratulations to Madam President for her personal initiative to grow rice in front of house. It is an action of leading by example. The strong massage we have all got is that: if rice can grow in front of President's house, it can certainly grow around houses of all farmers. Therefore, what we are harvesting today is not just only the matured hybrid rice, but also the fruit of the important idea to resolve the food problem in Liberia.
I also would like to congratulate the Ministries of Agriculture and Public Works for their strong support and commitment to turn Madam President's initiative into reality by seriously involving in the project. At same time, I wish to commend the Chinese Agricultural Expert Team in BWI for providing hybrid rice seeds and effective technical advices on the trial planting.
I saw the Chinese experts spreading rice seeds onto the nursery beds on November 27, 2007. Today we are doing the harvest. It takes only 105 days for the hybrid rice to grow mature. Based on yield survey, this single-crop yield is estimated to be around 5,300 pounds per acre. This experimental plot covers an area of 0.61 acre and can produce 3,233 pounds of rice. Take average annual grain consumption per capita at 400 pounds, this plot can feed 8 persons for a year. If it is cultivated twice a year, the yield can feed 16 persons. This experiment has proven that the hybrid rice cultivated in China can grow well in Liberia.
As you all know, China's population is as big as 1.3 billion and it is still growing by 10 million each year, while China has only 7% of the world's arable land and it is constantly diminishing. Yet China has managed to be self-sufficient in food. China is leading the world in production of vegetable, fruit, meet, egg, fish and etc. In fact, about 70-80% of the rice imported by Liberia from the international market is produced in China. This represents a major contribution of China to the food security of the world.
According to my personal observation, the secrecy behind China's success in agriculture is right policy, scientific farming and hardworking. For the first time in the 5,000 years of long Chinese history, China completely abolished its agricultural tax last year to stimulate agricultural production. This indicates that China is attaching increasing importance to agriculture which is perceived as number one national security issue.
China enjoys excellent relations with Liberia and is committed to help Liberia to improve its agriculture by sharing experience with it. At the moment, we have a team of 5 agricultural experts teaching in BWI and training the local people on hybrid rice growing. China is going to build a large Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre in Liberia. I am confident that experience sharing can be better carried out and more technicians and farmers will be trained there when it is completed. Three years after completion, the Center is designed to turn into a dual purposed entity for skill training and commercial farming.
The Chinese and Liberian agriculture is highly complementary to each other. China has rich agricultural experience and advanced farming techniques while Liberia has abundant land resources and plenty of sunshine and precipitation. There are great potentials in our bilateral cooperation in the agricultural sector. According to the projection made by the Chinese Agricultural Expert Team, planting the hybrid rice twice on 115,000 acres of land, the production can feed the whole Liberian population annually. As long as the government, the international and local NGOs and the farmer are all mobilized, the day when Liberia achieves its self-sufficiency in food is not far away.
Thank you for your attention.