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Narratives of China-Africa Cooperation for Agricultural Development: New Paradigms?

FAC Working Paper 53
Lila Buckley

Current debate is still largely centred on China?s engagement with African agriculture as either a threat or an opportunity. Such debate will not be resolved without a broader body of empirical evidence on the nature and impacts of the diversity of Chinese agriculture engagements in specific African contexts. This paper explores Chinese narratives on: China?s own agriculture and development success; African agriculture challenges and opportunities; and the nature of China-Africa cooperation, to ask how to best engage with China-African agriculture cooperation to improve the outcomes for African agriculture.

The paper first reviews current literature on China-Africa cooperation for agriculture development and identifies gaps that this paper attempts to fill and methods used in this research. Then a very brief overview is given of the institutional arrangements for China-Africa agriculture cooperation, presenting available data on the nature and scale of these engagements. The following sections present narratives from policy papers, media, statements by officials, literature, and informant interviews on this cooperation towards an exploration of the underlying patterns, justifications, relationships and styles of Chinese agriculture engagements in Africa. In the latter section, challenges to the dominant discourse and potential alternative models are explored. Finally, the conclusion brings forward preliminary assessments of these narratives and suggestions for further research.

Current debate is still largely centred on China?s engagement with African agriculture as either a threat or an opportunity. Such debate will not be resolved without a broader body of empirical evidence on the nature and impacts of the diversity of Chinese agriculture engagements in specific African contexts. This paper explores Chinese narratives on:

· China?s own agriculture and development success;

· African agriculture challenges and opportunities; and

· the nature of China-Africa cooperation,

to ask how to best engage with China-African agriculture cooperation to improve the outcomes for African agriculture.

The following section reviews current literature on China-Africa cooperation for agriculture development and identifies gaps that this paper attempts to fill and methods used in this research. The third section gives a very brief overview of the institutional arrangements for China-Africa agriculture cooperation, presenting available data on the nature and scale of these engagements. The fourth and fifth section then present narratives from policy papers, media, statements by officials, literature, and informant interviews on this cooperation towards an exploration of the underlying patterns, justifications, relationships and styles of Chinese agriculture engagements in Africa. In the latter section, challenges to the dominant discourse and potential alternative models are explored. Finally, the conclusion brings forward preliminary assessments of these narratives and suggestions for further research.