Keynote address by Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI, at the China-DAC Study Group on Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development, meeting in Bamako, April 27–28, 2010
Sub-Saharan Africa has made notable progress in economic recovery in recent years but has lagged behind other developing regions in growth and poverty reduction in the past couple of decades. The consensus is to focus on the importance of agriculture and rural development as an engine of growth in Africa and as a viable response mechanism to new challenges for growth and food security, such as the global recession, volatile food prices, and climate change. As national leaders and donors are looking for new strategies to sustain high levels of agricultural growth in Africa, it is useful to examine the experiences of other countries, such as China, that have been successful in agriculture-led broad-based development. Learning from China’s development pathways is particularly timely in lieu of the recent strengthening of China and Africa’s economic cooperation, which also offers new development opportunities.
This paper seeks to draw lessons from China’s development experiences, particularly in the areas of agricultural and rural development, to increase growth and reduce poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. It also examines China’s rising economic involvement in Africa and makes recommendations for how the win–win outcomes from this involvement can be strengthened. While the discussion and recommendations in the paper emphasize the commonalities between the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, it does not overlook the fact that these countries have their own specific economic, political, ecological, and social environments. The second section of the paper compares the trends in economic and agricultural growth, as well as poverty and hunger reduction in China and Sub-Saharan Africa. The third section examines strategies for development—in particular, agricultural and rural development—and poverty reduction. The fourth section reviews China’s economic engagement in Africa in the areas of trade, investment, aid, and technical cooperation. The fifth section discusses the policy implications for development strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa, which can be drawn from China’s development experiences. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion on increasing the win–win outcomes of the China–Africa economic cooperation.