Farmers in Dakar, Senegal, transplant rice seedlings under the watchful eye of Chinese agricultural experts. China’s long-term motivation for investing in African farming could be to export food back to its home markets, a research paper from Standard Chartered bank has warned. The world’s largest country is more or less self-sufficient in grains, but within 20-30 years it is expected to need to import an extra 100m tones of food a year to meet the growing appetites of its middle classes.
Where China will turn to meet these agricultural needs is the key question. Concerns about global food security have raised questions over whether investments in African agriculture are for export. While we do not see investment as securing Chinese food security for now, this could be a longer-term motivation.
China’s investment in African agriculture is still insignificant compared with the money it has ploughed into African oil, gas, mineral resources and infrastructure. Of an estimated $67bn of large-scale investments in Africa from 2006 to 2012, only $3.5bn was invested in agriculture according to the bank, which earns 90% of its profits from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
But there are strong signals that China is getting more interested in African farming. It has pledged to provide, in the next few years, up to 3,000 experts for technical assistance and training, as well as training 2,000 African agricultural technicians and setting up 14 major agricultural technology centers.
Africa’s population is expected to match or overtake China’s by 2050. China will soon need to develop deeper trade ties with key African countries to help feed its 1.3 billion population.
China’s current engagement in African agriculture is primarily aimed at addressing African food security, but by investing in the region with the greatest agricultural potential, China could also be seeking to support its long-term food security.
Reference: http://www.alternativeinvestmentadvice.co.uk/chinese-food-security-may-be-motivating-invest.php