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China’s appetite for international agricultural investment: case studies of Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Tanzania

Research report

Written by Lauren Johnston, Edmund Downie, Joshua Mwakalikamo, Marina Rudyak

Research report

The Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on livelihoods across developing countries. In agriculture, disruptions in the supply chains led to failure of crops to reach markets and interruptions of the planting processes and cycles, as well as migrant labour flows. In China, those stressors have compounded a set of underlying agricultural stress points which have resulted in the President of China Xi Jinping calling on the Chinese people to not waste food, a call that has since become a national campaign. China’s latest Five- Year Plan (2021–2025) has a food security agenda for the first time.

Building green and inclusive agri-food systems is one of the most powerful ways to recover from the current crisis by better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life. Moreover, by equivalently investing in agriculture in other developing countries, China can have a new source of external economic growth, foster poverty alleviation and economic development internationally, and contribute to the alleviation of internal food security fears.

Despite compelling push and pull factors, constraints are restricting China’s expressed interest to partner with developing countries to grow their agricultural sectors. This study explored the related trends in three countries – Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Tanzania – with different geography, strategic importance, institutional framework and existing economic ties, especially related to agriculture.