Wednesday, January 13, 2010

China in Africa

The news media portrays China as buying up land in Africa to grow food for China. The reality of China's involvement in African agriculture is more oriented toward foreign aid, probably calculated to build goodwill and access to minerals and petroleum. Below is my translation of a January 9, 2010 article from the Hubei Daily newspaper describing efforts by a coalition of Hubei provincial government officials, scientists, and a company owned by the province's land reclamation bureau and 19 other State-owned companies apparently set up to specifically carry out this program.

"Yesterday, the provincial government held a special meeting to investigate the development of 'Going Global' in agriculture. The vice governor stressed that Hubei agriculture has had a lot of success in the “going global” strategy, and we must plan to intensify, integrate resources, cultivate personnel, speed up overseas agricultural development. Since the 1970s, the province has undertaken agricultural projects in Sierra Leone, Congo, and Togo in rice breeding demonstration and training. Last year, our province undertook four projects with value of over 80 million yuan (over US$11 million) to send 46 experts and technicians to Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, and Tanzania. Our province set up the Lianfeng Overseas Agricultural Development Company and began construction of an agricultural technology demonstration center in Mozambique, the first of a set of 14 planned African-assistance agricultural technology centers. Lianfeng Co. also took the opportunity to invest in a building materials factory, and built a Hubei Friendship Farm. The provincial seed group exported nearly 5 million kg of seed last year with a value of over US$9 million, accounting for 48.6% of the company’s sales, spreading Hubei seeds from Asia to Africa."

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