China and Brazil well positioned to boost agriculture in Africa

14 March 2016

China and Brazil are two countries that are well positioned to boost agriculture in Africa, whose growth sector is seen as vital for the continent’s development, according to analysts.

An article published last week by the Institute for Development Studies gave the recent opening of the Novo Banco de Desenvolvimento bank’s Johannesburg office as an example of the “increasing influence of China and Brazil in Africa”. The bank, previously known as the BRICS Development Bank, is expected to start providing loans in April.

Agriculture, the article said, is a “major area of ​​involvement for China and Brazil in the continent,” and both countries are “particularly well placed to help African countries develop their agricultural sectors.”

“China provides favourable partnerships for both sides with unparalleled pragmatism, which are very well received as an alternative to an increasingly obsolete aid industry. Brazil offers tropical technology, which is reputed to be well adapted to the climates and soils of Africa,” it said.

The involvement of both countries in the agricultural sector in Mozambique was covered by researchers Kojo Amanor and Sergio Chichava in an article published in February, affirming that South-South cooperation is increasingly seen as able to “facilitate and complement other sources of assistance,” creating conditions for increased “multilateral and multipolar” cooperation.

“Agricultural development is an important component of China and Brazil’s relations with African states. Both countries are among the five largest agricultural producers in the world (…), they have powerful agro-business sectors operating in global markets and are expanding through mergers and acquisitions,” they said.

The involvement of both countries in Mozambique has been extensively studied, given the importance of some of the support provided – a soft loan of US$50 million (2010) for construction of three processing plants (cotton, rice and corn) and a long-term credit line from the Export and Import Bank of China (Exim – US$60 million dollars, 2012) for a farming complex in Chokwe district.

According to the researchers, Chinese cooperation uses “two avenues” – the Umbelúzi Centre for Research and Transfer of Agricultural Technology (CITTAU), created in 2011, which tests and adapts seeds, as well as providing training and supply contracts between Chinese companies and local farmers.

The main companies involved are Wanbao Africa Development Agriculture Limited (WAADL), considered by the China Development Bank to be the Chinese company most involved in Africa, Lianhe Africa Agriculture Development Company, China-Africa Cotton Mozambique Ltd. (CACM), Sunway International, China Africa Co Agriculture, Agricultural CCM and Hubei Lianfeng.

“Based on long-term involvement, cooperation for development and agro-industrial investment in Mozambique has expanded in recent years. Taking care of old state farms, encouraging planting of various crops, to address local food shortages, is a priority. This has had strong Chinese support and the expansion “should continue” they said.

The Brazilian initiatives in Mozambique, as in Ghana, are “structured around social protection, technology transfer and export of Brazilian agro-industrial products.”

According to the researchers, Mozambique favours large-scale investments and a greater openness to land acquisition by Chinese and Brazilian companies. (macauhub/BR/CN/MZ)