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China has donated US$3 million to Algeria as part of a scientific and technical cooperation agreement between the two countries.

The agreement was signed last week (19 November) in Algiers by the secretary-general of the Algerian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Madjid Bouguerra, and the deputy Chinese foreign Minister, Quiao Zonghuai.

The Algerian agriculture minister, Said Barkat, told the Algerian Press Agency at the ceremony that the agreement is intended to help in developing several areas, including agriculture.

Barkat said that the two countries will establish bilateral projects in crop irrigation, genetic improvement of plants and animals, and reclamation of degraded farm land — areas in which China has considerable experience.

He added that the two parties are establishing special projects to transfer salt water and wastewater for irrigation purposes.

In return, Algeria will help China with the cultivation of fruit trees and to fight desertification, in which Algeria has extensive experience.

The Chinese delegation spokesman said: "China is currently threatened by the phenomenon of sand encroachment on fertile lands and we look forward to cooperation with Algeria and to benefit from its experience in this area."

Houda Boureghda, a botanical expert at the Algerian Agricultural Institute, told SciDev.Net, "I think the agreement will be very useful for us to develop our research on genetic improvement of plants, as China has made huge developments in that area and I think we should have much to do together."

The two parties have also signed another agreement, whereby China will construct digital seismology network stations to detect earthquakes for the Algerian Astronomy, Astrophysics and Geophysics Research Centre.

These agreements have been reached as a result of a state visit to China by the Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in November 2006 (see Egypt and Algeria sign science deals with China).