Crafting a unique partnership with Africa_00.1
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Crafting a unique partnership with Africa

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/crafting-a-unique-partnership-with-africa/article35157179.ece

 

Relevance

  • GS Paper 2: International Relations: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Crafting a unique partnership with Africa_50.1

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Context:

  • As the Indian-African relationship enters the post-pandemic world, it is vital to prioritize and channel resources into augmenting partnerships in agriculture.

Ministry of Cooperation

 

 

Potential of African Agriculture Sector: Opportunities for India

  • Unexplored potential: Africa has 65% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, employing over 60% of the workforce, and accounting for almost 20% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.
  • Potential of the start-up ecosystem in the African Agri-tech sector: which saw a 110% growth between 2016 and 2018. Last year, despite the pandemic, the sector witnessed a record increase in investments.
  • Crucial for future global food security: as it has a largely untapped and underdeveloped agricultural sector which can help in ensuring global food security if properly utilized.

Election Commission of India (ECI)

 

Analyzing Chinese Engagement in Africa

  • Important partner: China is among Africa’s largest trading partners and single biggest creditor. Its corporations dominate the region’s infrastructure market and are now entering the agri-infra sector.
  • Access to Africa’s natural resources, its untapped markets, and support for ‘One China: are the primary drivers of Chinese engagement in the region.
  • Built industrial parks and economic zones in Africa: which are attracting low-cost, labor-intensive manufacturing units from China.
  • Training and capacity building: African agriculture experts, officials, and farmers are provided opportunities to augment skills and be trained in China.
  • Focus on market capture: by building ‘brand China’ to dominate the African market, even at the cost of short-term profits. This is being done through-
    • Pushing Chinese standards in host countries.
    • Laying critical telecommunications infrastructure by Chinese tech companies.
    • Investment by venture capital funds in African fintech firms,
    • Expansion of smaller Chinese enterprises across the region.

Important Prelims Article- 14 July 2021

 

India-Africa agricultural cooperation

  • Multifaceted Engagement: with projects being implemented under Indian lines of credit, capacity-building initiatives, and cooperation in a range of sectors.
  • Institutional and individual capacity-building initiatives: Such as
    • The India-Africa Institute of Agriculture and Rural Development in Malawi,
    • Extension of soft loans and Supply of machinery,
    • Acquisition of farmlands: Indian farmers have purchased over 6,00,000 hectares of land for commercial farming in Africa.
    • The presence of Indian entrepreneurs in the African agricultural ecosystem.
  • Co-operative mechanism:
    • Direct cooperation with Indian states: for example, the Kerala government trying to meet its steep requirement for raw cashew nuts with imports from countries in Africa to complement its limited production capacity.
      • There is a proposal to create a jointly-owned brand of Africa-Kollam cashews.

India- Maldives Relations

 

Learning from Chinese mistakes

  • Negative perception about Chinese engagement: due to insular diaspora, lopsided trade, looming debt, competition with local businesses accompanied by greater political and socioeconomic interlinkages.
  • Disconnect with ground realities:
    • In some cases, the techniques taught in China is not available locally and in others, there is the inability to implement lessons learned due to the absence of supporting resources.
    • Language barrier: Larger commercial farms run by Mandarin-speaking managers and the presence of small-scale Chinese farmers in local markets aggravates socio-cultural stresses.

Technology in Agriculture: India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA)

 

Way forward

  • Promote cooperative and collaborative mechanisms: on the lines of the proposed African-Kollam Cashew brand in other areas of the agriculture sector.
  • Incentivize Indian industries: to tap into African agri-business value chains and connecting Indian technology firms and startups with partners in Africa.
  • Effective Impact Assessment: of the existing capacity-building initiatives in agriculture for India to stand in good stead.
    • Creating demand-led skill development program: by drawing up a Country-specific and localized curriculum.
  • India should be mindful of increasing Chinese presence because Beijing’s model, if successful here, could be heralded as a replica for the larger global south.

 

Conclusion:

  • India has consistently chosen well to underline the development partnership to be in line with African priorities. It is pertinent, therefore, that we collectively craft a unique modern partnership with Africa.

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