Chinese agricultural investment in Mozambique to feed China

14 December 2009

Maputo, Mozambique, 14 Dec – The launch in Mozambique of the Chinese Centre for Agricultural Technology will serve to meet demand for food from the Chinese population, said Emeka Chiakwelu, director of Afripol-African Centre for Economic and Political Strategy.

“Chinese agricultural investment in Africa is not a work of charity or altruism. China is in a position to gain a lot. The partnership between the governments of China and Mozambique is a prudent investment on both sides,” said Chiakawelu who is also the principal strategist at Afripol, a Nigeria-based unit that analyses public policy.

“China is opening the way for notable commercial exploration and big profits,” said Chiakwelu, adding “in the end the new centre will help China to meet domestic demand for food, via the acquisition of some products.”

The first Chinese Centre for Agricultural Research and Technology Transfer in Mozambique, which is due to open at the beginning of 2010, aims to increase rice production in the country five-fold, from 100,000 tonnes currently to 500,000 tonnes per year, and another centre is scheduled to be built.

The new agricultural exploration, Chiakwelu said in a recent analysis from Afripol, will increase Mozambican income and also ensure foreign currency enters the country.

China, according to the analyst, is investing in an area with “unlimited opportunities” given the large amount of arable land on the African continent.

As well as Mozambique, Chiakwelu noted investments in Angola, Nigeria, Malawi and Zimbabwe as a way of China introducing modern agricultural methods based on innovation and research and development.

“Due to poverty there is an entire social class of Africans that have a poor diet, and in some cases, have no money to eat three balanced meals a day. With a growing African population, which in the future is expected to total 1 billion people, the problem will not improve until agricultural innovations are put in place along with modern technology to improve the lives of the population on the continent,” said the analyst.

“China understands Africa’s needs better because it has to feed an enormous population of over 1.2 billion mouths. Africa can learn a lot from China,” he added.

“Flooding Africa with Chinese products may not make much commercial sense for Africa, but investing in agriculture responds to a basic need that Africa has,” said Chiakwelu.

A second Chinese centre is also scheduled to be built in Mozambique, fulfilling a pledge by Beijing to invest US$800 million in modernising the Mozambican agricultural sector in one year.

The first centre is being built in the Boane district, Maputo province and represents an investment of US$55 million, Macauhub learned.

The Boane centre is the first of ten that Chinese President Hu Jintao, pledged to build in Africa back in 2007. (macauhub)

MACAUHUB FRENCH