Research shows that China has managed to reduce poverty in its own population from more than 60 percent to less than seven percent since 1978, thereby eradicating more poverty than any other state in the human history.
This is according to a research by International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTS) saying if Africa can partner with China, there will be sustainable growth in ensuring food security for the rest of the world.
China is said to be the second largest food consumer in the world and the centre report that it is meeting its domestic demand from its fading local resources in arable land and irrigable water.
Africa, which is abundant in these resources, may feature highly into China’s long-range plan to address food security needs.
ICTS note that raising the level of African agricultural productivity is in the interest of the whole world and it sees China’s role in African agriculture as helping to address global food security needs.
“Recently, China’s partnership in African agriculture was focused on technical assistance and capacity building. However, in the interest of sustainability, the development of markets and the potential for expanded trade, China has encouraged public-private partnerships and provided incentives for its agribusiness corporations to invest in African agriculture,” noted ICTS.
In the 1960s and 1970s, according to ICTS, China built more than 80 demonstration farms, covering a total of 45 000 hectares.
It said the focus then was on technology transfer and training and by 2009; China had carried out 200 agricultural projects, established 23 fisheries, stationed 1,100 Chinese agricultural experts in various parts of Africa, established 11 agricultural research stations and initiated 60 agricultural investment projects.
Most of the investment projects were initiated by large to medium-sized state-owned Chinese farming groups, stated ICTS in a report.
Between 2003 and 2008, ICTS note that more than 4 000 Africans travelled to China for agriculture-related courses lasting from three weeks to three months.
“China’s interest is global food security and not to grow food in Africa for export to China. So far, most for-profit agricultural initiatives in Africa by China are focused on meeting local and regional demands. The Chinese engagement might be more meaningful if Africans are careful to manage it well,” said a report.
ICTS encourages Africa to use China’s assistance to develop its agricultural sector and the associated infrastructure to encourage a more efficient market structure saying Chinese investments have the potential to change agriculture permanently on the continent.
Investing in agriculture, according to the centre, is the surest path to reducing poverty and hunger in Africa adding that there is a vast potential for Africa’s agricultural goods in China. Africa’s policy makers are urged to exploit this opportunity.