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China's agricultural investment in Africa not "land grabbing": expert

Source:   Time:

WASHINGTON, May 16 (Xinhua) -- China's investment in African agriculture has nothing to do with "land grabbing," an agricultural expert said at a seminar on China's agricultural investment in Africa Friday.

"I think the land grabbing idea is a little hard to sustain because there has been quite a little China's agricultural investments in Africa," said Deborah Brautigam, a professor and director of the International Development Program of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Brautigam, who has followed China's agricultural relationship with Africa for 30 years, said some farmlands that Chinese companies have bought or rented are quite old, as some were even set up in colonial period.

"So that's hard to say that's land garb. That's just normal investment and hasn't displace anybody," said Brautigam

Brautigam also said if China companies want to be more successful in investing Africa's agriculture they need to bear more social responsibilities for the local community as the local governments may not keep their promises.

"Local governments don't always have the capacity to do it. They don't have the finance to do it. They don't have the incentives to do it. So if Chinese companies want to be seen as responsible investor they are probably going to take those responsibilities themselves," she said.

Brautigam suggested Chinese companies do more on training local people and transferring technologies, as well as offering long-term jobs for local people.

She said such actions will increase the cost of China enterprises to invest in Africa's agriculture. To reduce companies' burden, the Chinese government should partner more with these companies by providing subsidies.

"I think the subsidies can be on the side of the corporate's social responsibility, in terms of subsidies for training workers, or for doing environmental studies, or medication, compensation," Brautigam said.

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