South-South Cooperation between IFAD and China Taking Its First Step - Reflections from Participants on Day 2

Seminar on South-South Cooperation between China and IFAD
Beijing, 24 September

The advancement of China's agriculture sector is based primarily on good agricultural policy after a proven process of formulation and implementation steering. It is a specific model that combines small farms with rapidly increasing productivity and production for commercial and especially exports. The design of this policy is based partly on practical pilot experiences. Subsequently, their implementation is widely replicated. On the other hand, it relies heavily on researchers and multidisciplinary experts. The strategic choices of government bodies at different levels are thus based on expert opinion to be translated into practical plans of the Government's political will. The steering of this policy is facilitated by the development of tools to support efficiency and capitalization of experiences. These tools allow any time to decide on a readjustment of the implementation of even agricultural policy in the ongoing search for appropriate solutions and effective. It is a strength to have control of these tools to analyze and predict changes in economic investment in agriculture.

On the other hand, the implementation of a subsidy for agricultural inputs and equipments obtained significant success in terms of increased production. The reinforcement of security of land tenure has motivated the producers to adhere to and ownership of agricultural development policy in the perspective offered by access to land for long-term (30 years).

To finalize the preparation of its agricultural sector program, Madagascar can draw process practiced in China for: (i) reduce the preparation time, (ii) accelerate the start up of its implementation, (iii) develop tools for its management to predict economic impacts. It was also noted that agricultural development has served to launch the industry in China from its extension to non-agricultural activities and small and medium sized local businesses.

Environmental side, the watershed management Loess Plateau project shows that this type of project can be conducted on a large scale. Indeed, this board has a total area of 640,000 square km, the project focused on the most sensitive areas totaling 30,000 km ². However, such projects require huge funding of $ 500 millions. This raises questions about the prioritization of financial resources and the balance between the economic exploitation and environmental protection. The changes are impressive. In addition, beneficiary communities were much engaged in the performance of work. (By Madagascar Team)
  • Climate change should be adopted into planning of local development.

  • Forest replantation could be combined with livestock development

  • Development of livestock is crucial to improve income of farmers

  • On-site development of enterprises in rural areas will be effective in reduction of migration and remove of labor form agriculture to other sectors.
    (by VietNam and Bangladesh teams)

I am impressed by the depth of research on agriculture which is them passed on to the political class and used as basis for policy formulation. The direct correlation between growth in agriculture and the reduction of poverty (or is it wealth creation?) is amazing. (King’ori, Wathobio, Project Advisor for Rwanda)

What came out clearly from the first day is that government needs a strong strategy and good political will to overcome poverty. And these should last several decades to bear fruits: poverty decreased from 250 million people to 20 million in China.

Governments should never get dependant of international aid, but use it to learn new techniques and new ways of development.

The second day gives key lesson for IFAD projects in the World is the way China developed its agriculture based on smallholders (average 0.6 ha/farm). Major shift occurred with market liberalization in early 80’s which created boost in production (only 5% farmers in cooperatives). Since then government focuses its efforts on institution reform, agricultural technology and market liberalization.

For the future China will have to confront an aging farmer population, maintain labor intensive production in the country, outsource land intensive production in other countries. (Benoit Thierry, IFAD CPM)