Tuesday, 4 February 2014

4 February 2014: China and Brazil in African Agriculture - news roundup

By Henry TugendhatCBAAnews

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.

Brazil, Angola and FAO sign South-South cooperation agreement
Angola, Brazil and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have signed a South-South cooperation agreement that seeks to strengthen Angolan food security by boosting its agricultural and veterinary research. Training and technical assistance for 105 Angolan staff will be provided by EMBRAPA.
(UN Food and Agriculture Organisation)

Zimbabwe adopts the Renmibi
Last week, Zimbabwe’s central bank listed the Chinese Renminbi as one of several foreign currencies that would officially be allowed to trade in the country. Zimbabwe dropped its own currency in 2009 after it soared to 231,000,000 percent in hyperinflation, and has since been using a number of other currencies such as the US dollar and the South African Rand.
(The Africa Report)

President Mugabe voted deputy chair of the AU
Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe, has been elected as first deputy chair of the African Union, thereby implying that he will be attending the EU-AU summit in April. The EU had not invited President Mugabe to attend. The Zimbabwe Herald sees this election as a show of strength from the AU, demonstrating that their internal governance will not be dictated from outside.
(Zimbabwe Herald)

Vale compensates displaced farmers in Mozambique
Vale agrees new compensation for residents of Moatize who lost farmland. On 23 December 290 families blocked access to the Vale mine to complain they had never been given land promised in a 2008 resettlement agreement.
(Joseph Hanlon’s newsletter 239, 28 January 2014)

Globalization with Chinese Characteristics
A special issue of the journal Development and Change was published just before Christmas on the subject of ‘Globalization with Chinese Characteristics’. It looks at the new waves of culture, capital and influence coming from China out onto the global sphere and its variations with current forms of globalisation. There are good pieces by Giles Mohan and Raphael Kaplinsky on China-Africa engagements, and I would particularly recommend the last two articles for anyone working on Chinese ethnographic studies:

Is Africa about to lose the right to her seed?
Last year, Via Campesina published a report on seeds, which included a chapter on knowledge sharing initiatives between Brazilian and Mozambican farmers’ movements. The aim of the partnership was to push forward informal seed markets in the face of mounting pressure from multinational seed companies. The website Grain features an interesting article surrounding its publication.
Chinese investments in African Agriculture
The SAIS China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC will hold a conference and research workshop on 16-17 May 2014 on the theme of: “Researching China’s Agricultural Investment in Africa: ‘Land Grabs’ or ‘Friendship Farms’?” Those interested in submitting an application to present a paper should do so before the deadline on 14 Feb 2014.
(China in Africa: the Real Story)

Should the UK government promote UK businesses in developing countries?
Last week, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, gave a speech at the London Stock Exchange where she spoke of increased involvement of UK businesses in development projects. UK companies such as the department store Marks & Spencer, and the supermarkets Tesco and Asda, will be working with African farm workers under this scheme. Although different in form to Brazil or China’s mixtures of aid and business, it is interesting to see how the UK’s synthesis of the two develops. The ODI blog also features a piece commenting on Greening’s speech.