The US and China have announced separate initiatives to help improve the cotton sector in four major African nations. China’s commerce minister, Mr. Chen Deming, along with African trade ministers and representatives, announced earlier this month their agreement on a US$20 million three-year scheme.
An article published by the Chinese Xinhua News Agency suggested that the program may be just the first step in a longer term effort that could result in the eventual presence of Chinese textile manufacturing interests in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali (C4), which account for about 40 percent of the continent’s raw cotton output.
Initial efforts, according to Xinhua, are aimed at the transfer of technology, along with the provision of machinery, planting seed, fertilizer and pesticides. China also will share research technical assistance and its experience with cotton cultivation.
Mr. Chen said that the initial three-year program could be renewed, and that over the longer term, China could eventually move a portion of its textile and apparel industry onto the continent, as part of what he called an “aid for trade”.
The full Xinhua article is here.
Meantime, the US Trade Representative’s Office has announced its intention to extend the West African Cotton Improvement Program for an additional four-years at a cost of US$16 million, when the current program expires in April 2012.
Introduced in 2005 with an initial investment of US$27, the program focuses on a number of key activities described by the US Agency for International Development, such as:
- supporting policy and institutional reform for private management of the cotton sector;
- improving the quality of cotton;
- establishing regional training programs for cotton ginners;
- strengthening a cotton biotechnology program;
- expanding the use of good agricultural practices in cotton-producing areas, including soil degradation and pest management; and
- improving relationships between the US and West African agricultural research organizations.
Questions: Given China is not the first country to put money, services and expertise into Africa to improve the continent’s cotton industry, what are the chances of success?
How successful have previous attempts been?