South–South relations in African agriculture

Hybrid modalities of cooperation and development perspectives from Brazil and China

Authored by: Lídia Cabral

Routledge Handbook of South–South Relations

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138652002
eBook ISBN: 9781315624495
Adobe ISBN:


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African agriculture has, in recent years, been the stage for some noteworthy South–South cooperation (SSC) initiatives by countries such as Brazil, China and India. These initiatives have included technical cooperation, trade and investments in farming activity, confirming the broad scope of SSC vis-à-vis aid as traditionally defined. Narratives about SSC stress reciprocity and put forward a ‘win-win’ approach where both sides presumably benefit. Yet, whereas for China ‘win-win’ has an intrinsically commercial connotation, Brazil emphasises horizontality of relations among equals. Irrespective of these differences, the contrast with the established aid system and its paternalistic charity ethos is central to the symbolic claims of SSC. It has been argued, however, that behind these claims lies a new form of imperialism and scramble for resources. This chapter illustrates why neither predatory advances nor the construction of an emancipatory development paradigm are carried out smoothly. The experiences of Brazil and China in African agriculture highlight the intersection of diverse actors and competing interests and ideas in the SSC sphere and challenge arguments about monolithic Brazil or China in their South–South engagements. The frontline of cooperation is a space for complex social and political interactions that often give rise to unforeseen developments.

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