China’s Agricultural Developments

China Monitor - Issue 11 - Sep 2006September 2006 – Issue 11

Reform of the agricultural sector from the late 1970’s into the early 1980’s established the basis of China’s commercial success. The move away from a collectivist and state-heavy approach to land management and the freeing of the country’s agricultural sector unshackled the market and boosted productivity in agriculture.

When Hernando de Soto wrote his book “The Mystery of capital”, he could have been referring to Chinese policy making vis-à-vis its land reform policy. China effectively unlocked the value that lay in its land through marketising its usage and giving incentive to private capital. The labour intensive nature of the sector caters for 750 million Chinese peasants, the majority of China’s population.

China’s reform model faces similar challenges to that of South Africa albeit on a far greater scale – poverty reduction and management of urbanisation. Agriculture is naturally a major component of reducing poverty in both countries.

With free trade negotiations between our two countries pending, China’s agricultural sector holds out promise as an export destination for South African agricultural produce. Rather than wilting under the competition in the manufacturing sector, agribusiness could be a win-sector for South Africa in China.

Download PDF – China Monitor – Issue 11 – Sep 2006