“We want smallholders to produce better and earn more”
China and Nigeria are the two most recent additions to the countries in which we work. Continuing our portraits* of local employees, we look at work in China’s Gansu province.
Our Foundation’s Chinese office was registered in 2018 under the supervision of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Agriculture. Since then, we have identified a number of areas for involvement. These include water, soil, cash crops, post-harvest handling, and processing, as well as market linkages and food safety and quality. Our program in Gansu province is now well established. Its goal is to increase agricultural productivity and quality and to improve income opportunities for small-scale farmers. We recently talked with program manager Li Honglei. Here’s what he had to say…
I was born in a small village of the Henan Province in the central of China in the 1980s. Before joining the Syngenta Foundation (SFSA) in 2018, I worked for Syngenta for several years as a potato production technology manager. I had previously been a senior agronomic specialist at PepsiCo. I hold a Master’s in Plant Pathology from Henan Agricultural University.
Why did you choose to work in the ag sector?
Having grown up in the countryside, I know about farmers’ hardships. I wanted to get involved in the agricultural sector to help them. Furthermore, agriculture is an important sector of our national economy; as well as feeding people, it also provides raw materials for industry.
What are your responsibilities?
I work with smallholders in Gansu, one of the poorest provinces in China. I’m in charge of introducing new varieties and advanced agricultural technology, organizing training sessions and helping farmers sell their produce. I also build up relationships between the smallholders and our other partners. To help smallholders properly, we must always first understand their needs. The final phase is then implementation. Our overall goal is to help farmers gain resources for agricultural production and increase their income.
What is the impact?
Particularly in western parts of China like Gansu, smallholders have historically found it very hard to access good crop varieties and technology. As a result, the yield remains low and crop quality poor. Smallholders here depend heavily on farming for their income and have thus stayed poor. That is why we are introducing better varieties and providing technical training. Importantly, we are also linking smallholders with markets in which they can earn good money. I believe that more and more of them will benefit over the next few years, and their income will increase significantly.
What do you do in your free time?
I like reading books and news, especially on agricultural and financial topics. At the weekends I particularly enjoy spending time with my children and other family members.
Here’s our recent portrait of a Nigerian SFSA employee www.syngentafoundation.org/news/recent-news/great-farmers-great-nation-no-farmers-no-nation
For further information on our work in China, see: https://www.syngentafoundation.org/syngenta-foundation-sustainable-agriculture-new-office-china