China, Africa and food security

International Policy Digest | 9 July 2015

The fact that China does not now depend on Africa in any meaningful way for food does not mean this will continue to be the case. 

China and Africa together constitute more than a third of the world’s population. China is Africa’s largest trading partner and an important source of investment and aid. As a result, the China-Africa relationship has significant implications for global food security. Neither China, with 1.4 billion people, nor the 54 countries of Africa collectively, with 1.1 billion people, are food self-sufficient. Although they both export food, they have become net food importers.

The 2015 Global Food Security Index ranked 109 countries on the basis of food affordability, availability, and quality and safety. China ranked 42 on this index. Of the 32 African countries ranked, only South Africa scored higher (number 41) than China and 31 countries scored lower, most of them near the bottom of the ranking. This index suggests there is considerable room for both China and Africa to improve food security. Climate change will make even more difficult the ability of China and Africa to contribute positively to global food security.

I need to underscore one note of caution in this analysis. Some of the statistics used refer to agriculture generally and do not distinguish between food crops and cash crops such as cotton, sisal, and tobacco.   – See more at:

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