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Empowering Futures: China’s Juncao Initiative in Fiji

ChinaEmpowering Futures: China's Juncao Initiative in Fiji

Since 2012, China has seen a breathtaking economic metamorphosis. In a globally unstable economic period and amidst China’s transformative challenges, the country has remarkably evolved both in terms of its economic magnitude and quality. This accomplishment, in a time of great global economic upheaval, doesn’t happen by chance. The guiding philosophy behind this success is the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. This guiding light not only navigated China through treacherous waters but also kept the nation’s economic marvel vibrant.

As China strives towards establishing itself as a prominent modern socialist nation, Xi’s economic ideology remains crucial. This thought leadership not only steers China’s development but also holds profound global implications. To further unravel Xi’s economic insights and their global impact, the Global Times delves deep into his speeches, policies, and their subsequent implementation.

Juncao: The Miracle Grass

An intrinsic part of China’s formidable journey towards poverty eradication has been the role of Juncao, a unique grass breed. This endeavor, the largest in recent history, has borne numerous success stories, with Juncao being a standout.

Although China has achieved the commendable task of eliminating absolute poverty, Juncao, introduced globally by President Xi Jinping in 2000, has found its way into many other developing nations. Heralded as the “magic grass,” it has enhanced living standards for many across the globe.

Juncao, translating to “mushroom grass,” serves multi-fold purposes. It acts as a substrate for edible mushrooms, provides livestock feed, and combats desertification. Its introduction is straightforward, profitable, and is a patented Chinese innovation.

The Global Times’ expedition to Fiji underscored Juncao’s monumental importance. Here, the grass has morphed beyond its natural characteristics, symbolizing ecological preservation, enhancing the quality of life, bolstering women’s incomes, and promoting holistic and sustainable growth.

The Juncao Impact in Fiji

Neori Tiko, a worker from the Tadra farm in Nadi, shared with the Global Times, “This Juncao grass is truly a blessing for us; our gratitude to China is immense.” The farm embraced Juncao technology in 2020. During a challenging drought, when the farm faced grass scarcity, China’s “Juncao experts” introduced them to this wonder grass. Now, it serves multiple purposes, from livestock feed to mushroom cultivation.

The “Juncao experts” that Tiko referred to are part of a Chinese delegation operating the Juncao technology demonstration center in Fiji. Launched in September 2014, this initiative enjoys the endorsement of President Xi and is a collaborative effort between the two nations.

Lin Xingsheng, leading this expert group, mentioned that Juncao’s applications are vast. It addresses Fiji’s western drought-prone region’s fodder shortage while boosting local livestock. Furthermore, Juncao’s robust growth and extensive root network offer solutions to local issues like soil erosion and salinity.

Tang Wenhong, vice-chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, highlighted the project’s success. As of March this year, the Juncao technology center in Fiji is the Pacific’s largest, with over 600 Fijian farming households growing Juncao and more than 1,000 households benefiting from an expansive cultivation area.

Juncao’s Global Footprint

The Juncao initiative isn’t limited to Fiji. China inaugurated its first overseas Juncao technology base in Papua New Guinea in 2001. Today, this technology benefits 106 countries, tackling challenges like poverty, soil erosion, and desertification.

China’s Foreign Ministry reports that Juncao technology has been propagated in 15 languages. Globally, over 10,000 individuals have been trained, and thirteen countries across Asia, Africa, and the Pacific boast training and demonstration centers.

This vast Juncao adaptation embodies Xi’s economic ethos. This seemingly modest grass represents China’s solutions to global adversities, its dedication to foreign aid, and its overarching humanitarian focus, underlined by a commitment to leave no one behind in worldwide development.

President Xi, in a 2021 message, highlighted his vested interest in Juncao’s international collaborations. He accentuated China’s desire to collaborate with other nations, aiming to make Juncao a symbol of joy and prosperity for developing nations. This sentiment was reiterated by Xi in the Forum on Global Action for Shared Development in July.

China’s Global Development Vision

Xi Jinping encapsulated the essence of development as humanity’s perennial theme. Shared growth is vital for a brighter global future. As the world’s largest developing nation, China intertwines its progress with global evolution, paving new avenues for worldwide prosperity.

In his message to the forum, Xi elucidated China’s intent to amplify resources for global development collaboration. He emphasized China’s commitment to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the aspiration of building a shared future for humanity.

China’s profound economic transformation, underpinned by Xi Jinping’s visionary leadership and symbolized by initiatives like Juncao, illuminates a path of shared growth and prosperity for the world.

The Juncao Initiative: China’s Gift to Fiji and Beyond

In the heart of China lies an age-old saying, “Growing a tree takes a decade, but nurturing a human soul takes a century.” This adage found its resonance when China’s groundbreaking Juncao technology was introduced to Fiji. Now, having seen success with the technology, the spotlight has shifted towards an even more ambitious endeavor: training the human spirit.

Juncao, a unique grass-mushroom blend, requires meticulous attention at various stages of production. The intricate cycle, starting from strain cultivation and culminating in mushroom harvesting, isn’t a simple journey. One particularly delicate stage is mycelium cultivation before the mushrooms sprout, demanding precision and time. The current model in Fiji has simplified this for farmers; the China-Aided Fiji Juncao Technology Demonstration Center offers pre-cultivated bags, and the farmers need only harvest the mushrooms.

However, Lin, a prominent figure in the initiative, dreams bigger. “Our vision is an empowered local farmer, capable of overseeing the entire process,” he stated. Votualevu College, renowned for its vocational training, has been chosen as the launchpad for this training mission. During a visit, reporters from the Global Times took note of the equipment – grinding and bagging machines, sterilization stoves – all courtesy of China. In a makeshift greenhouse, the Juncao mushrooms were thriving.

Reflecting on their journey with Juncao, Praveen Chand, a Votualevu College educator, shared, “We took our initial steps three years ago. Today, we’re thinking commercial. While our current production caters to our school’s needs, we’re actively disseminating this knowledge to the wider community.” He further added the revenue generated from the mushrooms is channeled back into enhancing the educational experiences of their students, many of whom have shown an avid interest in this domain.

Taufa Tupou, a pupil of Votualevu, revealed her aspirations to the Global Times, “After a year into learning about Juncao, I envision cultivating it at my home and exploring this industry more deeply.”

But the training isn’t confined to students. Professionals and technicians are also under its purview. Chand himself is a testament to this, having received training in China. The expert group from China has conducted 40 comprehensive training sessions across Fiji, enriching the skillsets of nearly 2,300 individuals. Moreover, 54 Fijian agricultural dignitaries and technicians were invited to further their knowledge at the prestigious Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University in China.

Fiji’s gratitude to China is palpable. Vatimi Rayalu, Fiji’s Minister of Agriculture and Waterways, expressed his gratitude in March 2023 during the unveiling of the China-Pacific Island Countries Juncao Technology Demonstration Center. He emphasized Juncao’s multifaceted benefits – from combating soil erosion and desertification to enhancing traditional farming methods and empowering young women.

The global community has taken note of China’s Juncao initiative. In 2017, the China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund celebrated the launch of the Juncao Technology Project at the UN Headquarters.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, encapsulated the global sentiment during the UN High-Level Meeting on Juncao Technology in 2019: “Through Juncao, China has etched a narrative of innovation and shared growth, touching over 100 nations. What started as a spark in Fujian Province illuminates the power of a single innovation – the potential to elevate lives and bolster livelihoods worldwide.”

In essence, Juncao isn’t just a technological marvel. It’s a testament to China’s commitment to sharing knowledge, fostering growth, and ensuring that when trees are planted, souls are nurtured too. The future of Juncao lies not just in the mushroom it produces but in the global community it empowers.

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