In the fields in Parakou, Benin, tractor drivers work hard for cotton planting. "With the application of tractors, we can finish work in half a day, which used to require three days", said a young tractor driver.
The China-Benin cotton technical cooperation program started in 2013, with the aim of upgrading Benin's cotton production capacity and helping local farmers get out of poverty. The program includes the demonstration projects on seed breeding and planting techniques, as well as technical training on agricultural machinery and equipment assistance. As of now, 14 training sessions have been conducted, benefiting over 500 trainees and covering multiple regions of Benin.
A total of 35 trainees took part in this year's first training session in May, where they learned about driving and the maintenance skills of agricultural machinery, both in theory and practice. They all passed the training exam and their villages were provided with agricultural equipment from the assistance project.
The production mode has witnessed significant changes compared to the past. In the demonstration cooperative of cotton planting led by the Chinese project team, cotton yield has increased massively through continuous optimization in ploughing and sowing techniques, multiplying income of local villagers.
According to Shou Xiaoyong, head of the Chinese cotton technical assistance team, in addition to hosting technical training every year, the team also works with the local agricultural vocational school and recruits school graduates for internships. By doing so, Chinese experts can also promote the cotton planting project and improve the awareness and capacity of using agricultural machinery among local farmers.
As a major cotton producer in Africa, Benin's national cotton output reached 800,000 tons last year. According to a representative from Benin's cotton research institute, the country's cotton output next year is likely to reach 1 million tons, thanks to the full cooperation between experts from China and Benin.