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Data: Chinese Agricultural Investments in Africa

Chinese Agricultural
Investments in Africa 

To access Chinese Agricultural Investment Africa, 1987-2014 (Microsoft Excel format), click here.

1. Chinese Agricultural Investments in Africa Data Overview

Sustained interest in China’s role as an overseas agricultural investor in Africa has generated hundreds of newspaper articles and editorials, sensational statements and robust myths—but surprisingly little investigative reporting. CARI Director Deborah Brautigam’s 2015 book, Will Africa Feed China?explores the scale and scope of Chinese farming investments in Africa. Drawing on the field research by Dr. Brautigam and other researchers, CARI SAIS China Africa Research Initiative has compiled a database of Chinese agricultural investments* in Africa, 1987–2014 (this appears as Appendix 1 in Will Africa Feed China?). The data will be updated quarterly. Out of nearly 6 million hectares of alleged Chinese land acquisitions, CARI found that only 239,365 hectares of land have actually been acquired. These 239,365 hectares of land are spread across many countries. Cameroon alone accounts for 43% of all accumulated lands actually acquired by the Chinese, most of which are used for rubber.

*We only include projects reported to be 500 hectares or above.

2. Why CARI Data?

CARI’s list of Chinese agricultural investment deals were triangulated by a combination of fieldwork, interview, and desk studies: “We carried out fieldwork in China and in a number of African countries where major Chinese land grabs were supposed to be happening, including the DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. We obtained a database of Chinese agricultural investments from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), and we interviewed numerous senior Chinese government officials, and employees at many of the major Chinese agribusiness companies in the field and at their headquarters in China. We talked to African government officials in rural areas and in the halls of their ministries. In each country we trekked to the rural areas to visit existing farms or find out why planned investments failed to launch. We also drew on the efforts of IFPRI colleagues stationed across Africa who shed additional light on some cases with their colleagues in ministries of agriculture.” 

Existing Data

3.1 Official Data
China’s Ministry of Commerce published “Foreign investment industry guidance country catalog” in 2004, 2005, and 2007. For each country, the catalogs highlighted specific areas where foreign countries were eager to receive investment and also those of particular interest to China. These could be very specific—potato farming in Thailand or jute in Bangladesh—but most were fairly general.

3.2 Other Research Efforts
Several research efforts have tried to collect similar information, such as the Landmatrix, GRAIN’s report on “Land Grab Deals”, and several other studies done by individual researchers.