Helping Africa Improve Its Farm Sector

China Daily, December 3, 2015 | 作者: Jiang Zhida | 时间: 2015-12-03 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
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Jiang Zhida

 

Some breakthroughs are expected to be achieved at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which starts on Friday in Johannesburg, where Sino-African cooperation in agriculture is expected to be high on the agenda.

China attaches great importance to agricultural cooperation to boost its relations with Africa. The new Chinese leadership has placed cooperation with Africa at a higher strategic level and intensified its exchanges with the continent.

President Xi Jinping visited three African countries in March 2013, and propounded some new principles for China's Africa policy, whose core purpose is to combine helping Africa realize economic independence, self-reliance and sustainable development with China's development.

During his visit to Africa in May 2014, Premier Li Keqiang, too, put forward a framework for Sino-African cooperation which focuses on industrial cooperation as well as cooperation in finance, poverty alleviation, environmental protection, personnel exchanges and security to upgrade China-Africa relations.

At the UN summit on development in September, President Xi announced the establishment of a fund to help South-South cooperation and increase China's investment in least-developed countries. And at the roundtable conference for South-South cooperation, Xi announced a five-year assistance project for Africa. The project includes poverty alleviation, agricultural cooperation, trade promotion, environmental protection, and the establishment of a number of hospitals, schools and training centers to help African countries boost their economic development and improve people's livelihoods.

And at the Johannesburg forum, China is expected to offer more assistance to African countries to boost their rural and agricultural development.

Africa's development momentum and the increased importance African countries attach to agriculture will create more opportunities for agricultural cooperation with China. The remarkable progress African countries have made in maintaining political stability, reducing regional conflicts, and promoting social and economic development means they want to pursue development through solidarity. Besides, Africa's 5.5 percent growth rate has made it the fastest growing region after Asia.

Having realized the vital link between agricultural development and poverty alleviation, grain security and employment, more and more African countries have increased allocations to strengthen irrigation, improve agricultural infrastructure and introduce mechanized farming in order to achieve diversified agricultural development. This, together with preferential land and taxation policies and measures to attract foreign investment and advanced technologies, will promote Africa's agricultural development and create more opportunities for cooperation with China.

Considering that African countries' poor infrastructure is a major bottleneck for agricultural development, China's Belt and Road Initiative can help them change their ground realities by offering them large amounts of loans for infrastructure construction. To make their development process smooth, therefore, African countries should dovetail their development strategy with China's initiative, because the easing of infrastructure development rules will lead to stronger Sino-African agricultural cooperation.

To ensure African countries achieve sustainable agricultural development, China should help them improve their agriculture industries' chain, including agricultural processing, storage and logistics. African countries, on their part, should take measures to improve their agriculture sectors' infrastructure, which includes opening up their markets and implementing more preferential taxation policies.

In order to strengthen Sino-African agricultural cooperation, China should send both governmental and non-governmental organizations across the African continent to train local farmers in the use of modern agricultural technologies and help them convert the knowledge they gather into practical use. China should also adopt some preferential policies so that more Chinese agricultural volunteers make Africa their base.

Moreover, the focus of Sino-African agricultural cooperation should be local development. Many infrastructure projects the Chinese government and some Chinese enterprises have helped African countries build have been playing vital roles in raising local agricultural production, but some of these projects have also invited criticisms for lack of social responsibility, not employing enough local workers, and violating local laws and regulations. To change this, the Chinese government and enterprises should localize their agricultural investment in Africa, including employing more local workers, in a bid to help African countries expedite their economic development.

 

 

Jiang Zhida is an associate research fellow with China Institute of International Studies.

 

Source: China Daily, December 3, 2015.

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