China-Africa Agricultural Modernization Cooperation: Situation, Challenges and the Path Ahead
African agriculture has grown significantly with the region’s rapid economic transformation in recent years. The share of agriculture in gross domestic product (GDP) has declined significantly, while the share of agricultural employment is still high. Nevertheless, agriculture remains one of the most important sectors in Africa and is key to food security and poverty reduction in this region. Africa has around 930 million hectares biophysically suitable for agriculture, but a considerable part of that land has not been cultivated. And despite recent growth in agriculture, agricultural productivity in Africa is still low compared to other areas of the world. Agricultural development in Africa is challenged by a series of obstacles, including: unfavorable land property rights policy; poor agricultural infrastructure; low agricultural research and development (R&D) and insufficient public investment; low regional market integration; an underdeveloped private sector and the low efficiency of the government; the impact of international food price volatility and climate change; and political instability and conflicts. African countries are calling for more international resources, technology, and development lessons to help promote their agricultural development. Since 1959, agricultural cooperation between China and Africa has established a solid foundation and China’s assistance has grown rapidly. The scope of this cooperation has deepened and expanded from the initial free aid to a wider range of activities, including agricultural trade and investment. Agricultural cooperation has primarily taken place in four major modes: aid in construction of agricultural technology cooperation projects, agricultural development capacity building, dispatch of agricultural experts, and construction of agricultural technology demonstration centers. In addition, China-Africa agricultural trade has increased rapidly in the last two decades, especially since the implementation of China’s zerotariff policy for some African countries. Since 2006, China has significantly increased its direct investment in African agriculture, mainly concentrated in crop production, though increasingly diversified, and the share of private investment is also increasing in China’s investment in African agriculture.