Neocolonialism in Sub-Saharan Africa, is China to blame?

With a population of 1.3 billion China the most heavily populated country in the world. The large population pose several challenges. The growing Chinese middle-class and their consumption creates a pressuring situation for the agricultural sector. The country has to feed 20% of the world’s total population with only 7% of global farmland, which creates an equation hard to solve.

Is China involved in Land Lrabbing in Sub-Saharan Africa? Photo: Melinda Chan, Flickr

This dilemma has created a widespread myth concerning the relationship between China and Sub-Saharan Africa. There is a fear that both the public and private sector in China are buying African land, with the ambition to transplant millions of Chinese peasants to Sub-Saharan Africa. The logic behind this assumption is that China has difficulties to provide  growing domestic market with agricultural resources, and therefore forced to outsource their agricultural sector through land-grabbing in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, the picture of the relationship between China and Sub-Saharan Africa is based on exaggerations and biases. New data provided by the Land Matrix in 2013 reveals the actors playing an active part in land-grabbing in Sub-Saharan Africa. The countries who invested the most in land acquisition on the African continent are United Arab Emirates, India and the United Kingdom whereas China is found in the 19th position.

There are little evidence supporting that the Chinese government use land-grabbing as a strategy for food security. Instead of investing in African land, China has focused on their own agricultural sector which has made the country able to supply its population with food without being dependent on processes like land-grabbing. Instead, the Chinese government has improved agricultural policies and invested in advanced technology. For example, almost half of the farmland in China is irrigated and the use of fertilizers is higher than in any other country. These investments has made chinese agriculture very productive, resulting in a high level of self-sufficiency.  

By: Mathilda Englund

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Categories: Land Grabbing

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