As an unemployed college graduate born in the 1990s in Burundi, Evrard Ndayikeje attended a hybrid rice-planting demonstration project led by agricultural experts from China in 2016. He then started his career development, going from the first agricultural technician trained by the Chinese team to the youngest high-level government official and leader of national economic development in Burundi.
In a casual meeting, the Chinese experts found that Ndayikeje was smart, studious and spoke fluent English. They then chose him to be the first young farmer to learn rice planting technology and management. With mentorship from the experts, Ndayikeje was able to boost his income, built a new house, establish a family and led a demonstration village out of poverty as its technical director. He was named by his country's agricultural ministry as a role model for entrepreneurship and traveled across the country to talk about his entrepreneurial experience. In 2019, he was appointed as head of the Development Department of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and Development. Recently, he was appointed as director of the national administration of cooperative economic development. Feeling forever indebted to the experts, Ndayikeje decided to name his first child Yang after his mentor, Chinese rice expert Yang Huade.
Since 2009, the Chinese government has dispatched agricultural expert teams to Burundi to help with poverty alleviation by piloting the "signature products for every village" project. To date, 142 households in the demonstration village have planted 225 hectares of hybrid rice, earning an average annual income of $ 4,200 per household. The Chinese team is expanding the successful experience of the village across the country and playing a bigger role in the agricultural development and food security of Burundi.