III. Strengthening Cooperation in Agriculture and Food Security
Agriculture is crucial for stable development and poverty reduction efforts in Africa. It is a pillar industry and a priority field for development in most African countries. China and Africa see favorable conditions and broad prospects for future agricultural cooperation. The Chinese government attaches great importance to its mutually beneficial agricultural cooperation with Africa, and works hard to help African countries turn resource advantages into developmental ones and sustainably develop their agricultural capacities.
In recent years, Sino-African trade in agricultural products has grown quickly. From 2009 to 2012, China's agricultural exports to Africa grew from US$1.58 billion to US$2.49 billion, an increase of 57.6%. During the same period, China's agricultural imports from Africa grew from US$1.16 billion to US$2.86 billion, a 146% increase. Most imported agricultural products are non-food items, including cotton, hemp, silk, oilseeds and other such products.
A major reason for the rapid increase in Chinese imports of African agricultural products is the zero-tariff policy that the Chinese government adopted in 2005 for some African products. Agricultural products are a major category benefiting from this policy and, as a result, the export of specialty African agricultural products to China has grown rapidly. One example of the impact of this policy is provided by sesame. China started importing small amounts of sesame from Africa in 2002. After the zero-tariff policy was adopted, sesame imports grew rapidly, from US$97 million in 2005 to US$441 million in 2011, an annual increase of 28.7%. This rate of import increase is higher than the average growth rate of all products imported from Africa during the same period.
In recent years, Chinese enterprises have invested in Africa in such fields as breeding improved seeds, planting grain and cash crops, and processing agricultural products. From 2009 to 2012, China's direct investment in African agriculture grew from US$30 million to US$82.47 million, a 175% increase. Investment by Chinese enterprises in African agriculture has increased grain supplies in the countries concerned and enhanced the comprehensive agricultural productivity of those countries. In Mozambique, for example, 300 hectares of experimental paddy fields supported by Chinese investment yielded 9-10 tons per hectare for three successive years. With the help of Chinese rice experts, local farmers see their paddy fields yield five tons per hectare, two tons more than previous yields. In Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, Chinese enterprises and the China-Africa Development Fund jointly invested in a cotton planting and processing project modeled on having enterprises work with farming households. The project was able to involve tens of thousands of local growers, effectively enhancing local capabilities in cotton processing.
Chinese enterprises have also worked to improve local farmland, water conservancy and conditions for agricultural production. Currently, the biggest agricultural project in Rwanda is a farmland improvement project supported by investment from the African Development Bank and contracted to Chinese enterprises. When completed, the project will effectively control major rivers and improve the utilization of water resources in Rwanda.
The Chinese government has tried to enhance Africa's self-reliance capacity to develop its agriculture by providing assistance in the construction of demonstration centers of agricultural technology, and sending senior agricultural experts and technicians to teach the locals managerial experience and practical techniques in agricultural production. Since 2006, China has helped set up 15 agricultural demonstration centers in Rwanda, the Republic of Congo, Mozambique and some other countries, and is planning to establish another seven. At the same time, China has sent technical groups and several hundred technicians to Africa to provide policy consulting, teach practical techniques and train local staff. With China's aid in a project to breed high-yield and high-quality crop varieties, Chad sees its yields grow by over 25% on over 500 hectares planted with improved varieties, and several thousand farmers trained.
In the future, China will advance agricultural cooperation with Africa in all respects while ensuring that this cooperation puts both parties on an equal footing, is mutually beneficial, and advances common development. It will work to establish and improve a mechanism for bilateral agricultural cooperation, and strengthen Sino-African cooperation in the sharing of agricultural technologies, resource varieties and agricultural information, the processing and trade of agricultural products, agricultural infrastructure construction, and human resource training. China will continue to encourage and support investment by established Chinese enterprises to put money into agriculture or technological cooperation in Africa. It will arrange and launch an appropriate number of agricultural demonstration centers in African countries, depending on their actual needs. China will also work to deepen Sino-African cooperation within the frameworks of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.