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The joint agricultural research between China and sub-Saharan African countries will improve food security in the African continent, experts said Thursday.
The China-Africa Joint Research Center, based in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, was launched in December 2014, marking a milestone in efforts to address the problems of hunger and malnutrition in many African countries.
"Food security remains one of the most portent threats to sustainable development in Africa, but our joint agricultural research venture with China has reversed the tide," John Bosco Njoroge, a senior researcher at the center told Xinhua ahead of World Food Day to be observed on Friday.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) says an estimated 245 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are affected by hunger and malnutrition.
Despite the grim scenario, scientists believe the continent has the capacity to feed itself if governments and the private sector increase investments in research and new technologies to improve food production.
The China-Africa joint agricultural research initiative has been focused on the transfer of technology and skills, as well as ways to improve food production in Africa.
Njoroge revealed Chinese and African scientists have been researching new hybrids that could resist harsh weather, pests and diseases.
"Our joint research project has focused on improved crop varieties, micro nutrients, and germplasm transfer," he said.
He said their work could create innovations to boost crop yield fitting local farmers.
"Our joint research initiative with China is unique because it links us with end users like farmers to find ways of improving crop yield," Njoroge said.
Jing Haichun, a professor with the Institute of Botany at Chinese Academy of Sciences, said progress has been made in developing improved varieties of sorghum, a major staple in Africa.
"We have developed sweet sorghum that is a multi-purpose crop. It can be used as animal feed and for production of gas," Jing told Xinhua by phone.
He said the introduction of high performing crop varieties, modern cultivation techniques and value addition are key to improve food security in Africa.
The Chinese government has sponsored exchange programs for Kenyan agricultural experts to learn China's experience.
Many African countries have been using the Chinese experience in the agricultural sector to address hunger.
Francis Ombwara, another senior researcher at China-Africa Joint Research Center, said China's rapid modernization of the agriculture sector offers valuable lessons to African countries.
"China at some point grappled with hunger but made deliberate efforts to overcome this challenge through adoption of technology to boost production of staples like maize and wheat," Ombwara said.