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Chinese and Brazilian Cooperation with African Agriculture: The Case of Ethiopia

FAC Working Paper 50
Dawit Alemu

The increased importance of South-South cooperation in rural and agricultural development, and especially the increased role of BRICS countries, has been debated in relation to international development assistance, specifically in terms of

(i) the modalities and policies for agricultural development deployed, including officially articulated cooperation principles and visions and priorities for agricultural development
(ii) the main actors in the cooperation process
(iii) the explicit and implicit rationales for the modalities that underpin technical cooperation in agriculture
(iv) the lessons for established donors, and
(iv) local perceptions of the value added of the approaches deployed.

This paper provides an overview of rural and agricultural development cooperation and tries to answer these questions for the case of Brazilian and Chinese agricultural development cooperation activities in Ethiopia.

In general, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) promotes harmonisation and an alignment process of donor support through the Ethiopian High Level Forum, with nine subsidiary sector-specific working groups. Brazil and China are not engaged in any of the nine government-donor coordination platforms including the platform for agriculture, natural resource management and food security, which is called the Rural Economic Development and Food Security Sector Working Group (RED&FS SWG).

However, Brazil and China are engaged as bilateral development partners in Ethiopia, mainly in the form of experience sharing in public governance, technical cooperation, and attraction of private and public investments. Moreover, the cooperation has very specific characteristics in that, in the case of Brazil, the GoE focuses on renewable energy sector development mainly related to biofuels, whilst in the case of China, cooperation is more focused on agricultural technology and skill transfer.

The paper first presents an overview of the cooperation in rural development in Ethiopia, followed by documentation of the level of engagement by Brazil and China in the major areas of cooperation, i.e. experience sharing in public governance, technical cooperation and strengthening private investment.