A Chinese aid project for Rwandan farmers is more of a gateway for Chinese businesses

Quartz| 17 November 2016
by Lily Kuo – Huye District, Rwanda

“The very thing that the Chinese want out of Africa is not food. They want business opportunities.”

Inside a gated white complex set back on a hill in southern Rwanda, a team of Chinese agronomists tends to 22 hectares (54 acres) of rice paddies, trenches of mushrooms, and rows of mulberry plants. Concrete storehouses surround a C-shaped building where they hold workshops on sericulture, soil conservation, and rice farming. In a showroom, a Ping-Pong table is crowded with vacuum-wrapped mushrooms, bags of rice, and dried stalks of wheat that they’ve grown here.

This is the face of one of China’s most prominent aid projects in Africa, “agricultural technology demonstration centers,” or ATDCs, whose mission is to modernize African farming while also giving Chinese companies a foothold in new markets. There are now 23 of these centers across Africa.

Here, at the China-Rwanda ATDC, Chinese agronomists teach local farmers the hidden benefits of mushrooms. They grow quickly, even in bad soil, and don’t take a lot of room. They pack in protein and other nutrients. At the end of five days of training, the students take a cooking class where they learn how to make things like liangban mu-er, a salad of “tree ear” mushroom paired with carrots and cucumber, or how to stew mushrooms in tea. .. http://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/26717-a-chinese-aid-project-for-rwandan-farmers-is-more-of-a-gateway-for-chinese-businesses

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