China & Food Policies

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Today I heard Dr. Dave Weatherspoon, Dean, Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, explain China’s food policy for dealing with the projected exponential growth in demand for food.

Professor Weatherspoon pointed out that:

– China’s middle class totals 300,000,000 people and is growing rapidly.
– The economy is expected to continue its 8% annual growth.
– As incomes rise, the demand for more, higher value food per capita grows.
– In a county with land and water constraints and a food system build on small farms, the long term outlook is for China to be a significant net food importer.

So, how are Chinese policymakers planning for a future built on food imports?

The answer, in part, is to help African nations build their agricultural capacity and infrastructure by investing $25 billion in Africa’s agriculture system over three years, offering 4000 agriculture-related scholarships per year and helping to build/rebuild infrastructure to support agriculture exports.

He told of a recent visit to Namibia, a nation of barely 1 million people. He reported that throughout the country there were crews of Chinese workers repairing roads – reported 40,000 workers.

He left the audience with the profound sense of how rapidly the worldwide food system is changing and how important our food policies really are.

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