Research center works wonders for poor Africans

Xinhua
Meshack Mutevu used to live in a house with a metal roof and mud walls like his forefathers, subsisting on a few mango trees and raising goats.
Xinhua

Meshack Mutevu used to live in a house with a metal roof and mud walls like his forefathers, subsisting on a few mango trees and raising goats.

The 44-year-old Kenyan’s life began to change when scientists from the Sino-Africa Joint Research Center with the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered that the local moringa was rich in selenium and had great market potential due to its health benefits after a farm produce investigation in 2015.

In partnership with SAJOREC, Botanic Diamond, a Kenya-based company run by Chinese, offered free seeds and technical guidance to local residents and procured the moringa after it was harvested. Mutevu planted over 200 moringa trees, which earned him an annual income of up to US$10,000, and enabled him to build a 400-square-meter villa in just two years.

“Sino-Africa cooperation should not stay in laboratories and academic papers,” said Wang Qingfeng, director of SAJOREC. “Fundamental research should be integrated into local situations.”

He said the center has turned a number of Kenyan plants, including baobab and toothbrush trees, into medicinal teas, essential oils, and toothpaste, adding that many Kenyan farmers can lift themselves out of poverty by planting these plants.

“The combination of the CAS’s advantages in technology and private firms’ grasp of the market will benefit more ordinary Kenyans,” said Cui Chaojie, chief of Botanic Diamond, which has developed 15 products out of 11 Kenyan plants.

Since its establishment in 2013, SAJOREC has put forward more than 45 joint research programs focusing on biodiversity investigation, pathogenic microorganism detection, geographic science and remote sensing, high-yield crop cultivation demonstration as well as land and water resources management.

“The fact that China has managed to lift millions of its citizens out of poverty in an unprecedented time frame using improved agricultural, scientific and technological approaches is a clear indication that there is room for close cooperation between China and Africa to improve African lives,” said Gituru Robert Wahiti, co-director of SAJOREC.

In order to help solve the issues of drought and water pollution which hinders the economic development of African countries, SAJOREC’s scientists have completed an investigation and assessment of the water quality in Tanzanian cities.

They are also preparing a plan on sustainable usage and management of key water towers in Kenya to create a national report on the sanitation management and sustainable usage of the country’s drinking water.

Teresiah Muciku Mungai, a doctoral student at the Wuhan Botanical Garden, is researching soil samples taken back from Kenyan residential compounds, schools and public spaces at the state-of-the-art laboratory. “We should learn from China’s experiences and also lessons in economic development and environment protection,” the 27-year-old Kenyan said.


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