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伊肯内·埃梅乌:尼日利亚 共享中国农业经验

中国开明的政策,很可能让其在与尼日利亚农业的合作关系中受益。从全球范围来看,这样的合作对世界经济和食品安全也是典型的双赢

文I伊肯内·埃梅乌  尼日利亚《太阳报》主编    翻译I 张敏

● 多行业挖潜

● 尼中共享农业经验

● 农业重振潜力巨大

2016年4月,在尼日利亚总统布哈里访华期间,习近平主席承诺将资助尼日利亚150亿美元发展农业,并会投入这部分资金,以成立约50个示范农场。这是两个人口大国之间,农业合作的一次重要里程牌。

尼日利亚有8400万公顷的耕地、旺盛的消费需求、低廉的劳动力及适宜的气候。布哈里总统曾多次强调要将农业作为推动经济结构多元化、解决就业的抓手。中国开明的政策,很可能让其在与尼日利亚农业的合作关系中受益。从全球范围来看,这样的合作对世界经济和食品安全也是典型的双赢。

 

多行业挖潜

农业的投资潜力,也恰巧被尼日利亚的一个专业团体——农民国际协会捕捉到。“大量的投资机会,存在于生产像大米和木薯这样当地的主食农作物中,因为国家正在减少对这些食品的进口。例如,新的大米自给自足政策,每年能帮尼日利亚财政直接节省25亿美元,这些钱会反哺大米农场主和农村社区。

政府也已经开始免费分发高产量的大米品种,提供化肥和机械服务。在小规模灌溉的支持下,全国大米的产量已经激增。过去两年内,尼日利亚的水稻产量就上升了460万吨。全国现代化的大米加工厂,两年内从5个增加到15个,都可以把当地的水稻加工成高质量的精米。42%的投资回报率,对于寻求种植稻田和经营大米加工的投资者,很有吸引力。

进一步深挖尼日利亚农业的潜力,该团体负责人表示:“大量的机会还存在于园艺这个行业。尼日利亚是世界上柑橘的第二大生产国,是非洲菠萝、芒果和番茄的最大生产国。但是我们目前需要从南非进口橙汁,从拉丁美洲和中国进口番茄酱。这对于新鲜农产品行业的投资者来说是个重大机会。

目前一些资本寡头已经开始行动了——非洲首富、尼日利亚人阿里科·丹格特旗下丹格特集团,投资600万美元成立一家名为Teragro的公司开展橙汁加工业务。另一家名为Dansa Foods的私企也是丹格特集团的分公司,它们正投资3500万美元成立一个番茄加工厂,该公司还投入4500万美元成立了一个6000公顷的菠萝种植和加工厂。

棕榈油也是一个吸引投资的行业,因为政府正在恢复尼日利亚在棕榈油生产方面的往日辉煌。这包括,给全国的小农场主免费提供900万株改进的高产量棕榈幼苗。“棕榈油加工厂的投资方兴未艾”,农民国际协会负责人如是说。

 

中国首次在尼日利亚举办援外农业培训班中,中国农业专家在农业示范园区内向当地农民传授技艺(新华社记者 张保平摄 )

尼中共享农业经验

几年前,在拉各斯举办的非洲食品展销会上,一位中国投资者,来自重庆力宏精细化工公司的商务经理邓先生,向我表达了他对公司的食品添加剂在尼日利亚市场的信心。“我们在中国市场中锤炼多年,相信这些经验同样适用于尼日利亚”。

去年6月,采访中国农业部国际合作司亚洲非洲处叶安平处长时,他告诉我,“尼日利亚曾经是非洲著名的粮仓,棉花、花生、大豆等农产品居世界领先地位。但20世纪70年代石油工业兴起后,石油取代农业成为尼首要经济产业,农业逐步被忽视。因为工业化而忽略农业化,中国可不想犯同样的错误”。

叶安平还警告说,若把14亿人口的食品安全交到别人手里,中国将会变得非常被动,所以中国一直在致力于粮食100%的自给自足。他还说,中非之间粮食的进出口必须严格遵守检验检疫和食品安全的国际法规。“如果非洲,特别是尼日利亚,能在这些问题上采取较好的先行措施,双边的农业贸易会有持续的进展”。

随着中国的农业科技的进步和现代农业工具的层出不穷,尼日利亚可以从中获益良多。比如,在中国正在积极推进的“精准扶贫”计划,帮助1200万人口在2016年提升到了基本贫困线以上。在这个扶贫计划中,农业发展成了重要的幕后推手。

去年7月,我在中国的宁夏回族自治区走访时,亲眼见证了当地如何有效地利用农业发展帮助贫困人口脱贫。我参观了省会银川附近的一个村子,这里的农民都是从荒漠中举家搬迁至此,依靠黄河的水资源发展农业,生活开始好转,有了可靠的生计、现代的房屋和学校。和较富余地区的9年义务教育相比,他们的孩子甚至可以享受12年的义务教育。

 

农业重振潜力巨大

中国已经成为第一个实现联合国千年发展目标使贫困人口比例减半的国家。但不可否认的是,贫穷仍然是尼日利亚目前经济增长的主要障碍。在中国帮助尼日利亚脱贫和发展经济的道路上,有一个优势不可忽视——这个国家有90%的土地是可耕种的,剩下的10%经过灌溉和机械化也可以实现播种。

去年,中国和尼日利亚签署协议支持农业发展这一举措很有远见卓识,现在这已经成了尼日利亚经济复苏努力的主要目标。殖民时期尼日利亚的经济主要靠农业驱动,那时农业对GDP的贡献大约是60%。粮食自给自足是这个国家的传统,每年的粮食进口都很少超过100亿美元。现如今,尼日利亚已经成为全球第二大米进口国,粮食进口比整个欧盟都多,这种局面令人揪心,但同时也蕴含着巨大的潜力。


Multiple benefits in Nigeria-China’s agric investment cooperation

By Ikenna Emewu, Editor of The Sun Newspaper, Nigeria

In several directions, the Peoples Republicof China has stretched the implementation of the Forum on China AfricaCooperation (FOCAC) in the past 17 years in Nigeria particularly.

The last checklist of the virile economicinteraction between the two countries was in the first month of this year whenthe China Foreign Minister, Wang Yi came calling in Abuja.

He announced the furthering of Chinaeconomic lifeline to Nigeria in bulk Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of $40bdollars.

The fund when implemented must fall in linewith the articles of focus of FOCAC which does not leave out agriculturedevelopment, mechanization and food security – the shortest and surest means ofchecking poverty.

Last year for instance, after the visit ofPresident Muhammadu Buhari to Beijing, the effort was renewed. During Buhari’svisit to Beijing, President Xi Jinping promised a commitment of $15b aid toNigeria to boost agriculture that would be invested in setting up about 50demonstration farms. That remains the most recent major targeted landmark inthe agricultural cooperation between the two countries with very largepopulations and food consumers.

With Nigeria’s 84m hectares of arable land,a large market and cheap labour coupled with good climate, China’s vast economywith open policies of reaching out to poorer countries stands to gain from thepartnership in this sector just like Nigeria. It’s a typical win-win bilateralcooperation viable for a better world economy and food security.

A pointer to the benefits and potential ofthe sector was captured aptly by the Corporate Farmers International, aNigerian professional group that: “Investment opportunities abound in theproduction of local staple crops like rice and cassava to reduce the country’sdependency on food imports. For example, the new rice self sufficiency policywill directly save Nigeria $2.5 billion annually and put this in the hands ofour rice farmers and rural communities. The government has also embarked onfree distribution of high yield rice varieties, provision of fertilizers andmechanized services. Supported by small scale irrigation, rice production hasexploded in the country. As a result, within two years, our national paddy riceproduction rose by 4.3 million MT. The number of integrated modern rice millsin the country rose from 5 to 15 within two years, all processing the localpaddy rice into high quality finished rice. Indeed, the government’s policy isattractive to investors who seek to both farm rice paddy as well as processthese by operating integrated rice mills. Rice investors stand to gaininvestment returns as high as 42 percent.”

Further exploring the agriculturalpotentials of Nigeria, the group reported that: Opportunities also abound inthe horticulture sub-sector. Nigeria is the second largest producer of citrusin the world, the largest producer of pineapples, mangoes and tomatoes inAfrica. But we import orange juice and concentrates from South Africa andtomato paste from Latin America and China. This is a significant opportunityfor investors in the fresh produce sector. A number of private investors nowinvest in horticulture. Teragro, a domestic private firm owned by the TranscorpGroup, has established a $6 million plant to process oranges into concentrate.Dansa Foods, another local private firm and subsidiary of the Dangote Group, isinvesting $35 million in the establishment of a tomato processing plant. Thecompany is also investing $45 million to set up a 6,000-hectare pineappleplantation and processing plant.

Oil palm also presents an attractiveopportunity as the government is restoring Nigeria’s lost glory in palm oilproduction. This involves recapitalizing our plantations by providing 9 millionhigh yield improved seedlings of oil palm to smallholder farmers and plantationestates in the country free of charge. Private sector investments are expandingwith new palm oil processing plants.

At the Food Nigeria Exhibition andConference in Lagos few years ago, a Chinese investor, Mr. Richie Deng,Commercial Manager of Chongqing Lihong Fine Chemicals, in indicating theinterest of his group affirmed confidence in the Nigerian markets for hiscompany’s agricultural products.

China on her side has a history of workableand successful experiment in agricultural economy from which she got liberationand leap into her current status.

Sometime in June last year at aninteractive with the Director of the International Department in the ChineseAgriculture Ministry, Ye Anping had told me in Beijing that Nigeria’s slump inagriculture prominence is one of the things that inspire China as the countrywould not want to make the same mistake. So Nigeria and China share not justtechnology, funding and agricultural techniques, but also experiences.

He cautioned that the worst China could dois to entrust the food security of her 1.4b citizens in the hands of others.That is the reason China struggled effectively and attained at least 85% foodsufficiency as he confirmed to me.

He also said that while China wants to buymore food from Africa, but some conditions on quarantine, food safety,competitiveness and other international regulations and standards must beobserved. He advised that if Africa and Nigeria particularly would take betterprecaution on these issues, there would be steady improvement of agric tradebetween the two sides that operate free trade rules on agriculture products.

With China’s technological advancementbenefits and the availability of modern agricultural tools and input andresearch possibilities, Nigeria has so much to benefit from the country.

In China for instance where the poverty alleviationproject is the most fruitful including over 12m citizens lifted from thepoverty line in 2016, agric development has been the most potent tool.

July last year, I was in the Ningxia Hui AutonomousRegion in north east China and was witness to how China uses effectively theinstrumentality of agricultural development to empower poor citizens and assistthem pull out of penury. I visited a resettlement village for poor citizens whowere uprooted from their hazardous desert homes to the banks of the YellowRiver in Yeshun Village, near Yinchuan, the capital city of the province. Theirlives were turned around with assured livelihood, modern homes and schoolswhere their children benefit from free education policies of 12 compulsoryyears as against the nine years that applies to Chinese kids from richerregions.

The project has been so effective that itstands as example for excellence in China poverty alleviation that made her theonly country in the world to comply with the UNDP MDG.

Poverty today remains the major obstacle tothe growth of Nigeria’s economy and here is a good lesson for her from China.

Likewise, in China’s pursuit of assistanceto Nigeria to defeat poverty and improve on the economy, it never overlookedthe reality that the country’s landmass has naturally arable space of about 90%and the rest that could produce food under irrigation and mechanization.

That informed the move last year by Chinain entering into agreement with Nigeria for support in agriculture developmentwhich is the major target of Nigeria’s economic revival efforts today. Nigeria’seconomy was agriculture driven in the pre-colonial and early post colonial era,contributing about 60% of the GDP. Then food sufficiency was a tradition in thecountry before the takeover of food imports that takes over $10b dollars everyyear. That has also exposed Nigeria to the pains of being the second largestrice importer with import volume more than that of the entire EU.