Mon, 24 Jan 2022

HAIKOU, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- In an office in Haikou, capital of south China's island province of Hainan, Hu Meijiao sits before a screen teaching her trainees in Kenya how to keep tropical fruit fresh.

Hu is a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS), and she is taking part in a cloud training program, which runs from Nov. 10 to 30, instructing Kenyans on cultivation and processing technologies for tropical fruits.

Tropical agriculture cooperation has always been an important element of China-Africa cooperation. CATAS is a reference center for tropical agriculture research and training of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and plays an important role in training tropical agricultural technology talents for African countries.

From 2004 to the outbreak of COVID-19, CATAS held 45 offline seminars for African trainees in China, with about 3,000 taking part. After the pandemic struck, Chinese tropical agricultural experts then chose to move the training online to ensure the programs were not interrupted.

The tropical agricultural experts spent almost a year preparing for the online seminars. In order to help African trainees better understand the operation procedures, they shot videos in mango and pineapple fields as well as factories.

The online seminars have benefited many African trainees. The first seminar about cassava this year received more than 200 enrollment forms.

Hu said that many African countries are developing their tropical agriculture output and are in urgent need of farm-produce preservation and processing technologies. The purpose of providing online training is to share Chinese technologies and help the African nations improve the economic benefits.

"Through the online seminar, African trainees can have a 'cloud visit' to the fields, watch technology videos, and interact with Chinese experts through online chat," said Hu, adding that the attendance rate for each class is over 90 percent.

"I'm very pleased to have the opportunity of being a student in the online seminar," said Saada Michaelo, a 51-year-old Kenyan trainee who lives in Mombasa. "The professors have been amazing, providing the kind of knowledge that's very valuable, and we hope to implement it on our small farms and other places in our country."

You Wen, deputy director of CATAS's international cooperation department, said cloud training has some advantages over the traditional offline method.

A traditional seminar can only accommodate 20 to 30 trainees at most, while up to 300 can take part in a cloud-training session. Moreover, the trainees don't need to go through complicated procedures and travel long distances to study in China. Online training doesn't present any restrictions in terms of age or physical condition, You said.

"We have held five online seminars for African countries this year, and the trainees include officials, technicians and farmers," said You. "The trainees can teach what they have learned to other people in their country and help more farmers to become rich."

"We hope the epidemic will end soon, because then we can have face-to-face interactions with Chinese experts," said Saada.

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