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China Looking to Uganda to Meet Food Demand

24 September 2013

CHINA - The Ugandan Agriculture Minister Tress Bucyanayandi has said he has no problem with China growing food in Africa to tackle its own growing food deficit.

A recent research paper by Standard Chartered PLC predicted that China would have to import 100 million tons of food a year within 20 to 30 years to avoid shortages.

The 75-year-old politician says there is surplus land in his country and the Chinese are welcome to farm it because Uganda operates an open door policy. "There is plenty of land, particularly in the northern parts of Uganda and much of it is idle," he says.

"Although the land belongs to people, they can enter into partnerships with the owners to develop it. We are running a liberal economy so there is no issue about them exporting the food back to China or the profit. They can take it," he says.

The Chinese have become increasingly involved in agricultural projects in Africa. In March Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a $20 billion credit line over the next two years to strengthen cooperation in Africa in agriculture and other sectors.

So far in Uganda, most of China's involvement has come in the form of aid and assistance rather than any attempt to source food.

Since the end of 2012 more than 30 agricultural experts and technicians have been working in Uganda in such areas as agribusiness, horticulture and grain production.

One of the biggest Chinese agricultural projects in the country is a $5 million fish farming demonstration center on the outskirts of Kampala. It is run by the Huaqiao Fenghuang Group from Chengdu in Sichuan province.

"They have helped us set up a fish demonstration center which has been very important. We need to do things such as stock small fish eggs and also do fish cage farming but our primary requirement is to have fish feed (also manufactured at the center)."

Mr Bucyanayandi said he has no problem with greater Chinese involvement in the agricultural sector.

"Why not? They say they want to assist us so why not?" he asks. "Chinese investment in agriculture has already been important here and I would like to see more of its presence."

Mr Bucyanayandi would also be particularly keen to see a Chinese bank enter Uganda and offer loans to local farmers.

TheFishSite News Desk



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