11 March 2014: China & Brazil in African Agriculture – news roundup

Can the World Feed China?
China’s grain imports have been growing enormously in recent years, set to make it one of the world’s leading grain importers. The article mentions the political sensitivity in China surrounding questions raised around food security, and these unrelenting increases may partly explain why soy beans were declassified as one of the “essential foodstuffs/grains” in December. Meat consumption is said to be driving these increased imports, with China said to have consumed half of the world’s pork products in 2013. It concludes that this could lead to rising food prices and political unrest in some areas. (farmlandgrab.org blog).

China-Africa Agriculture Policy Briefing
New policy briefing by Jean-Jacques Gabas (CIRAD) and Tang Xiaoyang (Qinghua University) in French and English looking at the rationale and policy instruments of Chinese agricultural cooperation. The briefing touches on questions of public-private partnerships, investments, and knowledge sharing.      (English); (Français).

Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture to Step Down
Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Antônio Andrade, has said that he will remain in his current post until April, at which point he will leave to compete for a seat in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies. The current political secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Neri Geller, is tipped to take the position after his departure, but that has yet to be decided by the president. (Rurabr agricultura) (in Portuguese).

Avian influenza affects Chinese corn markets
Avian influenza among chicken farmers in the South-East of China has dented demand for grain produced in the North-East of the country. Warehouses in the region are said to be too full to take in more corn. Meanwhile, market prices have fallen for corn produced in the north-eastern provinces, which has been said to trigger government stockpiling until prices go up again. (Dim Sums blog) and
(Sina.com) (in Chinese).

Mozambique Famine Fears
Mozambique Agriculture Minister, Jose Pacheco, says that more than 300,000 people in the central and Southern regions of the country are at risk of famine this year due to drought, flooding and insect plagues. They are said to be encouraging farmers to produce more with financial packages and have secured $100 million from Brazil to buy their agricultural machinery. (The Washington Post).

Rumours of Chinese air-base in Zimbabwe
There are unconfirmed reports that amid growing ties with Zimbabwe, China is planning to build a military airbase in the country. This would be its first on the continent.(The Zimbabwean).