China’s Hands on African Agriculture

As Chinese growth stretches ever more outside of its boundaries, the emerging super power seeks to feed its growing population. With 1.3 billion people to feed and only 7% of arable land in the world, China is opening its agricultural eye to the African continent.

rice in africa

Some critics deem the Sino-African relationship unfair stating Africa is at a clear disadvantage to Chinese investment and trade strategy. Chinese loans often make it a condition that contracts must be granted to Chinese firms and employ Chinese labor. Critics argue that the prominence of Chinese cheap labor and cheap goods has already caused unemployment in parts of the continent and has been detrimental to the economy. The directory of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, Jacques Diouf has described this kind of economic investment as “neo-colonialism”.

In addition to the fear that Chinese influence is harmful to African development and employment, there is a concern over rice farming in Africa. China’s substantial  investment in rice growing in Mozambique is concerning because rice is not a staple of most African countries’ diets. The question can then be raised, is China’s dealings in Africa purely based on self interest?

The Chinese reject this notion and instead argue that investment has also been directed towards the problem of undernourishment in Africa. Chinese supporters of activities in Africa believe rice growing is highly misunderstood and say the project is actually being designed as a possible solution to the huger problem. The Chinese Academy of Agriculture (CCA) started a project funded by the Gates Foundation called “Green Super Rice for the Resource Poor of Asia and Africa”. The project intents to have high-yield rice varieties  in seven African countries manufactured to withstand harsh conditions. The CCA calculated the project wi

ll increase rice production by 20% and assist in the feeding of 20 million poverty-stricken farmers in the countries involved.

china-africa

Oh, and it might be worth mentioning that Chinese companies have invested a total of $175 million on oil exploration projects and infrastructure related to oil activities. Coincidentally Africa now supplies a third of China’s oil.

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