Monday, 3 December 2007

Landless Chinese farmers migrate to Africa in search of agricultural opportunities

Jacques Cassiman, a famous European geneticist with a heart for Africa, was once asked what the future has in store for Europe's youth, who live in a continent whose population is ageing rapidly. His answer: in a 'reverse migration' of sorts, the creative and courageous ones will move to Africa, where they will find countless exciting opportunities no longer available in the old, grey continent. And when they migrate, they will be surprised to find many Chinese collegues in their newfound African homeland.

It seems like the Afro-optimist's vision is partly becoming a reality. China's presence in Africa is growing rapidly. As is well known, the People's Republic is involved in massive infrastructure projects, in the construction sector, in the oil and minerals industry. But what few people know is that more and more poor Chinese farmers are migrating to the continent too, in search for agricultural opportunities.

(...) A gross estimate says that more than 750,000 Chinese are now making a living in Africa (in all sectors, including agriculture).
(...) If the Chinese continue to help local ruralites acquire basic farming skills and cooperate with communities in marketing the products, this could prove to be a win-win situation for both. The process might be more effective than the countless asssistance programs offered by the West and international organisations, aimed at improving African agriculture. Read more
South China Morning Post: Landless farmers urged to migrate to Africa - September 19, 2007.
BBC: China in Africa: Developing ties - November 29, 2007.
People's Daily Online: Africa Feature: Story of nurse-turned Chinese farmer in Zambia - October 23, 2006.
Chris Alden, China in Africa, Zed Books, Series Title: African Arguments Series, 2007.
An excellent – if long – article about international development, foreign aid, construction contracts, and "China's African adventure" was published 19/11/2007 in the New York Times.

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