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Publication | 30 March 2021

Extraterritorial investments in agriculture in Africa: the perspectives of China and South Africa

Global Food and Nutrition Security

The 2008 global food price crisis, and the resurgence of food prices in 2010–2011, caused both widespread concern and expectations. On the one hand, countries whose food supply depends on procuring food from international markets saw food price spikes as threats to their national food security. On the other hand, investors saw in these price spikes an opportunity to make profitable investments in agriculture. Either as threat or opportunity, food price spikes raised interest in Africa, whose lands are fertile and have unrealised potential. Concerns of a possible land acquisitions in Africa, and in particular the impacts of Large-Scale Land-Based Investments in Agriculture (LSLBIA) on local communities, became prominent policy and academic themes. Unfortunately, quantifying the phenomenon has proved hard due to the difficulty of finding empirical evidence. As a result, debates are either theoretical or based on anecdotal evidence. This publication thus explores a different path, and explores the reasons why entities from China and South Africa were interested in investing African agriculture.