Zim benefits from China’s GDI blueprint to tackle poverty and development challenges

Phillipa Jaja

Poverty alleviation and attainment of food security are important aspects of Zimbabwe’s economic blueprint, the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), which aims at socio-economic transformation and development as pillars of an upper middle-income society by 2030.

Once considered the breadbasket of Africa during the 1980s period, Zimbabwe has lost the status due to a number of reasons that include climate shocks and the land reform programme among others.

In this new era, Zimbabwe can take lessons from China’s excellent record resulting in the feeding of 22% of the world’s population with only 9% of the planet’s arable land.

For apart from relying on historical information pertaining China’s rich poverty eradication experience, Secretary Xi Jinping packaged the winning formula in a Global Development Initiative (GDI) in 2015 in addition to his global scaled development emanating from the Belt and Road Initiative.

GDI benefits to Zimbabwe
In 2021, China successfully lifted nearly 800 million people out of poverty.

Many factors contributed to this development, chief among them effective governance, its human capital and favourable conditions that made all this possible.

But it was agriculture, China’s economic foundation and a vitality to its stability that was the game changer in the whole matrix.

The GDI is a resultant initiative premised on an agricultural basis which identifies seven key points to poverty alleviation.
Important to note is that Zimbabwe has already set the groundwork for the successful implementation of the initiative through replicating China’s magic formula in poverty alleviation.

For scholarly records state that from 1979 to 1984, in China institutional changes, (decollectivisation, allocating land equally to all households in rural villages) were major sources of growth in the agricultural sector.

The late President Robert Mugabe initiated a land reform exercise in the 2000s that benefitted most of the rural masses.

Technology adoption is noted as the major driver for production growth between 1978-1984 and 1985-1990.

The Zimbabwean government has been consistent in the adoption of technological adoption with farmers receiving farming equipment under its mechanisation programme and a nationwide irrigation programme among other initiatives.

Still, Zimbabwe lags behind.

The country could benefit from the GDI’s first major point which speaks to 50 practical cooperation projects in poverty reduction, food security, industrialization and other fields, as well as 1,000 new capacity building programs has helped address.

China has donated over 1200 boreholes to Zimbabwe in both rural and urban areas to assist poor people to access clean water

As things stand, China has built close to 1200 boreholes in some of the country’s provinces to help the county have access to clean water, a critical component in irrigation schemes – and a further 300 are set to be built to ensure accessible, potable water.

True to China’s promise of full cooperation towards the delivery of Chinese projects, assurances have been made to build more infrastructure to achieve food safety.

The result is the capacitation and the liberalisation of the country’s rural productive forces in contributing to the country’s food sufficiency.

Statistics on the ground point to small scale farmers being responsible for driving this year’s winter wheat output which has helped the country make history by having a surplus for the first time in years.

Moreover China has donated grain to the country’s vulnerable groups over the years in an effort to provide food security where there might be inability to do so.

Under GDI, China also promised to advance the Food Production Enhancement Action possible through cooperation with the FAO on cooperation in digital and innovative agricultural financing, animal and plant disease prevention and control, and sustainable soil and water resource management.

Zimbabwe should bear in mind that prevailing climate shocks require inclusive mechanisms in the innovative production of advanced chemical fertilisers and seed and crop varieties to increase yields.

Scholarly views point out that this worked in China’s case as it is believed that chemical uses such as synthetic fertiliser are thought to have contributed 19% to the productivity increase during the 1990s.

Adoption of the GDI is a critical component in Zimbabwe’s effort to achieve food sufficiency. However it should be complementary of governmental initiatives that speak to native solutions and available infrastructure. For example, the country suffered a major setback during the height of January disease that depleted many livestock. However there is sufficient power to address that hence pfumvudza remains a valid alternative for small scale farmers. Moreover, emphasis needs to be made regarding an over reliance on chemicals to improve yields. China is a good example in itself as it is now addressing serious environment pollution that is damaging to local ecosystems. Therefore, where it is possible, Zimbabwe should effect a balance.

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