Business / Companies

Chinese cotton firm harvests a bumper crop in Africa

By Wang Chao (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-30 07:02

"Back in the 1970s, when we were operating the plant in Zambia, African labor was more expensive than Chinese labor, but now it is much cheaper," Wang says.

Adeyemi Achamou Fahala, secretary-general of the African Cotton Association, says the organization aims to raise cotton production to 5 million tons by 2022, from the current 1.5 million tons. "We will also introduce more advanced levels of technology to improve the standard of cotton being produced and raise the capacity of our

Chinese cotton firm harvests a bumper crop in Africa
 Setting in train Africa's railways

ginneries," he says.

The Ministry of Commerce says that about 8 percent of the world's cotton is produced in sub-Saharan Africa.

US cotton continues to be grown on huge plantations, but in sub-Saharan regions, it is generally grown by individual farmers.

In Malawi, for example, cotton is still grown using the traditional method of mixing the cotton plants with those of other crops such as soy, corn and peanuts, so it acts naturally to reduce pests.

Wang says the company's business model is one of "company plus farmer".

During the growing season, they sell seeds, fertilizers and pesticide to farmers, and then buy their cotton after harvest.

"Growing cotton is not our strength, and we will never be a plantation company, in any sense," Wang says.

"There is more profit in trading cotton on the international market, or processing it locally."

Like other large multinational agricultural companies, China-Africa Cotton does not buy or rent land to grow cotton, but has only small-scale units for seed breeding.

"By doing this, we increase local farmers' income and avoid the risk of losing the land if and when policies change," he says.

China-Africa Cotton has established a seed-breeding base and a ginnery in Malawi, with annual capacity of 30,000 tons.

Zhao Jianping, assistant general manager of China Development Bank, says its company-plus-farmer model is excellent for promoting sustainable development in Africa.

"It not only brings technological support to Africa, but also introduces management experiences that help improve local economies."

Chinese cotton firm harvests a bumper crop in Africa

Chinese cotton firm harvests a bumper crop in Africa

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