Thursday, 1 August 2013

1 August: China and Brazil in African agriculture - news roundup

By Henry Tugendhat

This news roundup has been collected on behalf of the China and Brazil in African Agriculture (CBAA) project. For regular updates from the project, sign up to the CBAA newsletter.

Anhui Province increases investment projects in Zimbabwe
The Anhui Provincial State Farms Group is said to be involved in a three-phase project that aims to cultivate 500,000ha of land in Zimbabwe. The project is a collaboration with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Defence under the title of ‘Anhui-Zimbabwean Agricultural Co-operative Program’. 5,000ha were cultivated in the first phase, and 50,000ha were added in the second involving wheat, corn, soybeans and tobacco. So far, roughly 600 local jobs are said to have been brought about by the programme and one farm involved has become a teaching and practice base for the Zimbabwean Chinhoyi University of Technology.
(People Daily)

ProSavana data findings to be analysed by Senar in Brasilia
Brazil’s National Rural Learning Service (Senar) has announced that it has been collecting data related to the ProSavana project and will hold a conference at the end of July (2013) to analyse the findings. The conference will involve representatives from IIAM, DNEA and the Brazilian Government in a bid to establish “new forms of cooperation” on the project.
(O Pais – in Portuguese)

Comparing Chinese aid with Western aid
Li Xiaoyun has had an article published in the China Daily’s African edition looking at the differences and complementarities between Chinese and Western aid (attached). On the same page is an article by Zhang Qizuo from Chengdu University looking at the benefits of China’s investments in Africa.
(China Daily)

Brazil’s rising interest in science ties to Africa
Lidia Cabral (Future Agricultures) is quoted in this SciDev.Net article about scientific co-operation in health and agriculture between Brazil and Africa. Both have much to learn from each other, the article suggests.

Brazil develops new ‘superfoods’ to combat nutrient deficiencies that can cause blindness and anaemia
Embrapa has launched a programme in 11 of Brazil’s states developing new ‘superfoods’ to combat nutrient deficiencies that can cause health problems such as blindness and anaemia. Brazil is the only country to be currently working on the biofortification of 8 crops at the same time, and they include: rice, beans, cowpeas (black-eyed peas), cassava, sweet potatoes, corn, squash and wheat. The project is supported by HarvestPlus and AgroSalud, research programmes that are operating in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and results are due to be ready within 10 years.
(The Guardian)

World Bank report on African land rights
The World Bank has just published a report called ‘Securing Africa’s Land for Shared Prosperity’ claiming that Africa’s current land rights system has been holding it back from economic growth. In it they show that more than 90% of Africa’s rural land is undocumented, “making it highly vulnerable to land grabbing and expropriation with poor compensation.” The report also makes proposals based on country pilots in Ghana, Ethiopia, Mozambique and others.

Revising regulations and support for Chinese family farms
Following stipulations made for ‘Family Farms’ in China’s no.1 document earlier this year, a number of farms have been found to be abusing its provisions to claim subsidies. Furthermore, family farms are not strictly bound to limits on the size of their farming operations, however they should not employ labour outside of the family unit. As a result, family farms that have access to technology and capital have a much greater advantage over those that do not. The government is now working with Chinese agricultural institutes, including CAU, to address these issues and find a means to provide support where necessary from across relevant state institutions.
(China news
- in Chinese)

Volta region’s agriculture at risk from climate change
A report has just been published, showing the risk of climate change on the Volta region’s water supplies for irrigation and hydro-electricity. The report is authored by specialists at: the International Water Management Institute, Ghana's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. The region is home to 24 million people across 6 countries and has a strong dependence on agriculture.
‘The Great Deceleration’
The Economist’s headline article in this week’s edition of their magazine looks at the deceleration of economic growth in the BRIC countries. They claim that the first phase of these emerging economies is coming to close and that we are currently witnessing the beginning of a second phase of growth rates that are half those of the past decade.
(The Economist)