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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
South China Morning Post, 22 November 2015
 

Frank-Jürgen Richter says nations in Africa and Asia can learn from Beijing’s experiments with infrastructure and new methods in agriculture to generate growth and wealth.

The Chinese “food aid” model could help developing nations in Asia and Africa boost their local production and prevent early deaths due to malnutrition. Food and water – we cannot do without them, but too often these resources are squandered and lost. The global population currently stands at about 7.3 billion, which the UN predicts will grow to about 11.2 billion by 2100 and then fall to a fairly constant level of 10 billion. As the world has become richer, families have opted for fewer children; most of the globe now has a replacement rate of less than two except for countries in sub-Saharan Africa and across much of Asia: future growth will be in these regions. China, in Asia, has good links to many nations in Africa and can exert great influence.

In its recent five-year plans, Beijing has focused on infrastructure expansion while maintaining growth. As a consequence, it has garnered a large sovereign wealth fund that may be spent on its future social aims – to support the elderly and enhance the learning potential of its children (it has just announced the scrapping of its one-child family policy).

It is approaching these aims in several ways; one has been to vastly increase its transport and telecoms infrastructure, another is by constructing many new towns to entice rural migrants away from the now overcrowded coastal cities that were originally responsible for China’s economic boom. The inland cities and towns are taking up this clarion call.

Another infrastructure change, a massive experiment, concerns the diversion of the southern Yangtze River water to the arid industrialised northern towns. The South-North Transfer should divert 45 billion cubic metres of water annually through a network of canals and tunnels – and water has just begun to flow north along its eastern phase. Of course, many people have been displaced along its route, and they have valid woes, but the greater good will be felt in the north where many poor people live, as well as the wealthy. Those who have been displaced ought to be relocated to new towns along the route benefiting from the infrastructure that aims to develop new local wealth.

The 13th five-year plan aims to lift China’s remaining 70 million poor above the US$2 per day threshold. Beijing managed that task partially though its previous five-year plan by spectacularly meeting the UN Millennium Goals and I believe that its bedrock of infrastructure and momentum for change will allow it to meet the new goals.

On the way, the government will be able to reorganise its social welfare programme, or dibao, especially if tied to a rearrangement of the hukou system for new town residents, ensuring they have rights equally as good as traditional urban residents’. But this all takes time.

Meanwhile, rural farmers can be aided in the short term. There are fewer each year as older people die and the younger ones move to cities. This allows land to be consolidated into larger farms that are more amenable to modern methods and machinery, increasing yields. By better managing the soil, it has as a by-product an increased ability to capture carbon – aiding another of China’s aims: to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The farms will more easily connect to market hubs via new rural roads (also in the latest five-year plan), and the hubs can redistribute crops quickly by road, rail or air to distant markets. Cash flows along the food chain will increase intermediaries’ wealth and thus taxes for the government, and the economic flux will attract additional competitive entrants with new ideas for land husbandry: all in all, a positive system response.

But not all is plain sailing – achieving increased yields requires identifying alternative sources for competing uses of crop residues (for fodder, fuel and construction, etc) and balancing land use for crops versus housing or commerce. There is a need for a radical change in mindset at all levels of the social hierarchy. There must be a paradigm shift to the sustainable management of soil resources – through no-till farming, retention of crop residue as mulch and use of manure and compost to enhance soil fertility and generally reducing the overuse of chemical fertilisers and pesticides that leech into water systems.

All these aspects must be an integral component of any government programme related to improving agricultural productivity, achieving food security, enhancing water quality and mitigating climate change. And, in parallel, the development of food supply-chain management is needed, as well as educating consumers that slightly damaged fruit or vegetables are still wholesome. Across Europe and the US, it is remarkable how much food never reaches the supermarket shelves because of cosmetic rules on shape and size. The EU Commission even attempted to rule that bananas and cucumbers had to be straighter; fortunately the plan never went anywhere.

China, with its penchant for strongly devolved central management, can define a model of “food aid” that will support its own increasing demand for food from decreasing agricultural space (due to housing and industrial spread) and may increase the export of crops. By lifting yields at local levels, the rural population will become wealthier and healthier – while their excess crops can be consolidated in market hubs for effective distribution. This will reduce the losses “from field to fork” which, in India, are often said to be about 40 per cent of the original crop.

The Chinese model, supported by Chinese loans and Chinese managers, could be “exported” to countries across Asia and Africa to boost their local food production and prevent early deaths due to malnutrition. It will not be a panacea but a positive route to sustainability in regions predicted to have population growth. And such aid will show China to be an even better global citizen.

 

Frank-Jürgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community.


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