A Civilized And Equitable Land Grab?

Via Change.org, an interesting report on the $16 billion agricultural zone that Singapore currently plans to develop in northeastern China, as part of the tiny country’s plans to shore up its own food security.  As the article notes:

“…As Jina wrote earlier this morning, the unsettling sight of wealthier nations buying up swaths of Africa for food and crop production has stoked fear around the globe of a new “scramble” for the continent’s resources. In Sudan, the warlord Paulino Matip has struck a deal with the CEO of New York-based investment firm Larch Capital to lease 1 million acres. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, China has leased 7 million acres of land.

But as Chinese investors go abroad, a new “land grab” is unfolding in their own backyards.

Not the traditional kind of Chinese land scuffle, in which residents are forcibly evicted by local officials and developers. I’m referring to the $16 billion agricultural zone that Singapore currently plans to develop in northeastern China, as part of the tiny country’s plans to shore up its own food security.

At a sprawling 900 square miles, this “Modern Agricultural Food Zone” in Jilin will be fully twice the size of Singapore, the projected home of thousands of livestock and future rice, strawberry and ginseng fields. And unlike many of the land deals that have been made under cloudy circumstances in Africa, here’s why I actually think that — as Singapore officials have put it — for both countries, this deal does have the potential to be a real “win-win.”

First of all, based on media accounts so far, the deal really does appear to involve both Singapore’s government and Jilin municipal officials. In addition to Singapore, the Chinese also plan to make a substantial investment into the food zone, which will ultimately produce corn and soybeans for Chinese consumers, as well.

And that’s not all. There’s no hiding the fact that China’s food system is notoriously dirty and disease-ridden — from the use of “night soil” on supermarket crops to the spread of tons of powdered milk tainted with melanine. By contrast, Singapore has a long history of sourcing its food from all over the globe, and is home to a more stringent food safety regime. If all goes as planned, Singapore Food Industries will set up a pig farm in the “Modern Agricultural Food Zone,” which will partner with China’s DaChan food and Singapore’s Agri-food and Veterinary authority to help maintain a disease-free agricultural zone and promote quality food processing.

Better food and know-how for China, more food for Singapore: if the deal actually comes to pass, it strikes me as a fairly solid bargain. Now, if only other land deals proliferating around the globe, including China’s ventures in Africa, could exhibit a similar kind of partnership.”

This entry was posted on Monday, May 31st, 2010 at 10:10 am and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

About This Blog And Its Author
Seeds Of A Revolution is committed to defining the disruptive geopolitics of the global Farms Race.  Due to the convergence of a growing world population, increased water scarcity, and a decrease in arable land & nutrient-rich soil, a spike of international investment interest in agricultural is inevitable and apt to bring a heretofore domestic industry into a truly global realm.  Whether this transition involves global land leases or acquisitions, the fundamental need for food & the protectionist feelings this need can give rise to is highly likely to cause such transactions to move quickly into the geopolitical realm.  It is this disruptive change, and the potential for a global farms race, that Seeds Of A Revolution tracks, analyzes, and forecasts.

Educated at Yale University (Bachelor of Arts - History) and Harvard (Master in Public Policy - International Development), Monty Simus has long held a keen interest in natural resource policy and the geopolitical implications of anticipated stresses in the areas of freshwater scarcity, biodiversity reserves & parks, and farm land.  Monty has lived, worked, and traveled in more than forty countries spanning Africa, China, western Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Southeast & Central Asia, and his personal interests comprise economic development, policy, investment, technology, natural resources, and the environment, with a particular focus on globalization’s impact upon these subject areas.  Monty writes about freshwater scarcity issues at www.waterpolitics.com and frontier investment markets at www.wildcatsandblacksheep.com.