China’s innovative agricultural investment in Mozambique        

China is in partnerships with African countries principally Mozambique to introduce modern farming grounded in innovation, research and development. This is good news for Africa for lately China is venturing into agricultural investments in Africa not just in Mozambique but in Nigeria, Angola, Malawi and Zimbabwe. 

Poverty and hunger are the greatest twin challenges that are facing the present day Africa. Due to poverty the underclass Africans are poorly feed and in some cases cannot afford a well balanced three square meals. With bulging African population which is fast approaching a billion people in nearest future, the problem will not improve until agricultural innovations and modern technology are deployed to ameliorate the problem and better the lives of the people of the continent.

China has a better understanding and appreciation of the need in Africa for she is feeding a mammoth population of over 1.2 billion mouths. Africa can learn a whole lot from China and take the necessary steps to feed its people.  The Chinese agricultural investment in Africa is not a charity work nor is it altruistic. China is the position to gain heavily. The joint venture between governments of Mozambique and china is a prudent investment opportunity for the both parties: “The Chinese Agricultural Technology Research and Transfer Centre is being built on a 52-hectare plot near the Umbeluzi Agricultural Station, close to the capital Maputo. It will open in early 2010.”

China is opening the door for a great business venture and benefit. According to  “Chris Alden, a China-Africa relations expert from the South African Institute of International Affairs, says the new centre will ultimately help China meet its domestic food demands by buying some of the produce while raising incomes in Mozambique and providing the country with a source of foreign currency.” Therefore China is also investing in her people and future. The opportunity is limitless in Africa with vast fertile land waiting to be cultivated.

For sometime Nigeria is improving its agricultural sector and producing higher yields in rice, yams and millet. But Nigeria has not met its domestic rice consumption and continues to spend over $300 million to import rice annually. So with China investment in Nigeria’s agricultural sector it will enable the improvement to continue especially in rice cultivation. The greatest barrier to Nigeria’s farming is the inability to preserve the excessive crops and lack of electric energy is a major problem. Nigeria must improve her electric power to gain a sustainable agricultural industry.

The case of Zimbabwe is a sad story. Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of southern Africa and enjoying a vibrant agricultural export industry. But President Robert Mugabe has destroyed the industry with his misplaced agricultural reform which has turned the country to a starving nation. Now Zimbabwe has become a recipient of food relief from African Union and United Nations.

Mozambique, a Southern African country has a GDP of about $10 billion with almost 22 million people. A poor and struggling country like Mozambique can utilize this investment to enhance her wellbeing and increase her GDP.

Although China’s investment in agriculture in Africa is of mutual benefit still China must be praised for this commendable venture in Africa. China’s understanding of Africa’s need is quite encouraging and boosts for a better tomorrow especially in realizing that exporting of finished goods to Africa is limited economic advancement and investment. The flooding of Africa with Chinese finished products may not be a meaningful business arrangement for Africa.  But investing in agriculture will fulfill a core African need.

“The centre, funded with US$55 million, is the first of ten Africa-based agricultural technology centres promised in 2007 by Chinese president Hu Jintao. China has pledged to help modernise the Mozambican agricultural sector and aims to increase rice production five-fold, from 100,000 to 500,000 tonnes a year.

Patricio Sande, president of the Scientific Research Association of Mozambique, says the centre will use scientific research to speed up agricultural development in Mozambique. It will complement the government’s vision to transform agriculture into a productive, high-value market-oriented sector, he adds. Many of Mozambique‘s exports are agricultural products. “

The project is a breakthrough and it can become the most innovative leap forward to come along in the troubled continent. At the completion of the project there must an accessible and open channel to exchange technically know-how among African countries so that the issue of hunger in Africa can be finally arrested.  

Mr. Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal policy strategist at Afripol.  Africa Political and EconomicStrategicCenter (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.