Introducing our new working paper series on China & Brazil in African agriculture

These contrasts come out strikingly when reading across the papers. The cases also highlight the diversity of engagements grouped under ‘development cooperation’ in agriculture. Some focus on state-facilitated commercial investments; others are more akin to ‘aid projects’, but often with a business element; some focus on building platforms for developing capacity through a range of training centres and programmes; while others are ‘below-the-radar’ investments in agriculture by diaspora networks in Africa. The blurring of boundaries is a common theme, as is the complex relationships between state and business interests in new configurations.

This Working Paper series is one step in our research effort and collective analysis. Work is continuing, deepening and extending the cases, but also drawing out comparative and synthetic insights from the rich material presented in this series.

About the project

The CBAA project is supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s ‘Rising Powers and Interdependent Futures’ programme. We expect 24 papers to be published during 2015, each linked to short videos presented by the lead authors.

The CBAA team is based in Brazil (University of Brasilia and Universidade Federal do ABC), China (China Agricultural University, Beijing), Ethiopia (Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute, Addis Ababa), Ghana (University of Ghana at Legon), Mozambique (Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Económicos, Maputo), Zimbabwe (Research and Development Trust, Harare), the UK (the Institute of Development Studies, the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Overseas Development Institute).

The team includes 25 researchers coming from a range of disciplines including development studies, economics, international relations, political science, social anthropology and sociology, but all with a commitment to crossdisciplinary working. Most papers are thus the result of collaborative research, involving people from different countries and from different backgrounds. The papers are the preliminary results of this dialogue, debate, sharing and learning.

As Working Papers they are not final products, but each has been discussed in project workshops and reviewed by other team members. At this stage, we are keen to share the results so far in order to gain feedback, and also because there is massive interest in the role of Brazil and China in Africa. Much of the commentary on such engagements are inaccurate and misleading, or presented in broad-brush generalities.

Our project aimed to get behind these simplistic representations and find out what was really happening on the ground, and how this is being shaped by wider political and policy processes.

Read the papers

You can read the papers and watch video interviews with the authors here.