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Speech by H.E. Dr. Zhou Pingjian, Ambassador of China to Nigeria, at the China-Nigeria Agricultural Modernization Cooperation Forum

(From Chinese Embassy in Nigeria)

2017/05/17

Abuja, 16 May 2017

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation just concluded sucessfully yesterday in Beijing. It is our firm belief that the building of the Belt and Road brings more opportunities to China-Africa and China-Nigeria cooperation.As President Xi Jinping of China made it very clear in his speech at the opening ceremony of the Forum, "The Belt and Road Initiative is rooted in the ancient Silk Road. It focuses on the Asian, European and African continents, but is also open to all other countries. All countries, from either Asia, Europe, Africa or the Americas, can be international partners of the Belt and Road Initiative. The pursuit of this initiative is based on extensive consultation and its benefits will shared by us all." We welcome Nigeria to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative.

It gives me great pleasure to attend the China-Nigeria Agricultural Modernization Cooperation Forum today. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I wish to express our warm welcome to all of you for attending today's Forum. I also wish to express our sincere appreciation to the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, the China Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria for all the efforts and contributions they have made for this Forum.

Food is vital for human survival. China's top priority in running the country has always been to produce enough food for the over 1.3 billion people. China has succeeded in feeding about 20 percent of the world's population with only around 9 percent of the world's arable land. As a major agriculture producer, China leads the world in the output of grain, cotton, fruit, vegetable, tea, meat, poultry, egg, and aquatic products. China exports agricultural products to many countries and regions.

Nigeria is the most populous country and largest economy in Africa. Agriculture accounts for 23 percent of its GDP and employs 38 percent of its working population. No wonder agriculture and food security has been listed as one of the five key execution priorities of ERGP, the Nigeria Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020). According to ERGP, agriculture will continue to be a stable driver of Nigeria's GDP growth, with an average growth rate of 6.9 percent over the Plan period. By 2020, Nigeria is projected to become a net exporter of key agricultural products, such as rice, cashew nuts, groundnuts, cassava and vegetable oil. We are convinced that Nigeria will achieve self-sufficiency in tomato paste, rice, wheat and other farm produce through its own hard work. As a strategic partner of Nigeria, China stands ready to share its experience in agricultural development with Nigeria and provide financial and technical support to assist Nigeria achieve agricultural transformation and food security. We are willing to work with Nigeria side to provide more effective platform to mobilize more Chinese investment in Nigeria's Green Alternative.

As a matter of fact, agricultural modernization plan has been one of the ten cooperation plans China has been implementing with Africa since the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Johannesburg Summit in December 2015. China is willing to transfer readily applicable technologies and management expertise with Africa without any reservation. We encourage Chinese enterprises to engage in large-scale farming, animal husbandry, and grain storage and processing in Africa to create more local jobs and increase farmers' income. Also within the framework of this Plan, China is carrying out agricultural development projects in some African villages to raise rural living standards, sending teams of agricultural experts to Africa, and establishing a cooperation mechanism between Chinese and African agricultural research institutes. It is our sincere hope that cooperation on agricultural modernization between China and Nigeria could continue to serve as a pacesetter for China-Africa agricultural cooperation. For this purpose, we look forward to the early construction and putting to good use of the Chinese Government-granted agriculture science and technology demonstration center in Abuja.

To conclude, I wish this forum a great success.

Thank you.

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