Roundtable: Four Myths About Chinese 'Land Grabbing' in Africa on Oct. 29, 2015

Roundtable discussion marks the release of a new book by prominent expert on China in Africa, Dr. Deborah Bräutigam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 14, 2015

WASHINGTON—It seems a perfect match: China, the world’s most populous country, and Africa, the continent with the largest remaining reserves of arable land.
 
Ask anyone who follows the news what China is up to in rural Africa and you’ll probably hear some version of this story: hungry for African grain, the Chinese government is using its state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds to acquire vast areas of farmland in Africa. Large numbers of Chinese farmers are being shipped to the continent to grow food to send back to China. Africa is becoming China’s rice bowl.
 
Oxford University Press this week released "Will Africa Feed China?," a new book by Deborah Bräutigam that calls into question each of these four beliefs. Bräutigam is a professor of international development and comparative politics at SAIS and the director of the China-Africa Research Initiative.
 
A roundtable discussion will be held to probe the myths and realities behind media headlines on the issue. The roundtable takes place 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 29, 2015, at 1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, DC. The event is free and open to the public. Online registration is required to attend. Media are invited to register in order to cover this on-the-record event.    
 
As the book reveals, there are common misconceptions surrounding Chinese investments in Africa. “We investigated the 60 largest reported Chinese agricultural investments and tracked each one down,” Bräutigam said. “If all of these had actually happened, China would now be holding over 6 million hectares, about 1 percent of all the arable land in Africa.” Instead, China’s farmland acquisitions across Africa seem to have amounted to less than 250,000 hectares (by 2014). Most existing Chinese farms grow food for local markets and are run by private entrepreneurs. “No one has yet found a village of Chinese farmers anywhere in Africa,” Bräutigam said. “Moreover, China’s policy incentives do not make it easy to import staple grains like rice. Trade data show that China exports far more food to Africa than it imports.”
 
To feed its own population, Bräutigam stressed that Africa must move from subsistence to commercial agriculture, and China may play a role in that transition. “China’s agricultural modernization could offer useful ideas for African leaders and lessons on how foreign skills and talents can be channeled into positive outcomes for their people,” Bräutigam writes. “But Africans themselves must make these decisions.”
 
About Johns Hopkins SAIS

For more than seventy years, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) has been recognized as a leader in the study and practice of international affairs. Established in 1943 in Washington, DC, today the school’s global reach includes locations in Bologna, Italy and Nanjing, China, as well as strategic partnerships with leading academic institutions around the world. By combining the academic depth of a graduate school with the practical policy focus of a professional school, Johns Hopkins SAIS produces innovative thinkers and problem-solvers with the academic, economic and cultural expertise to confront complex global challenges. From CEOs to ambassadors, government officials to NGO leaders, Johns Hopkins SAIS boasts a well-established and vibrant community nearly 18,000 alumni in over 140 countries.
 
Launched in 2014, the SAIS China Africa Research Initiative (SAIS-CARI) is based at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC. SAIS-CARI promotes evidence-based understanding of the relations between China and African countries through high quality data collection, field research, conferences, and collaboration.
                               
 
Media Contact:
Janet Eom
jeom3@jhu.edu 
(202) 663-5962


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Date: 
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Press Release Type: