Reuters reported on Sunday that the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps has signed an agreement with the Ukrainian farming firm KSG Agro that would net 3 million hectares worth of farmland to be used to feed Chinese consumers.
Increasing food consumption on the part of the Chinese has resulted in aggressive agricultural expansion. The effort has been attempting to ensure that China will be able to feed their growing population in spite of low productivity. The recent acquisition on the part of China would more than double their 2009 foreign agricultural holdings.
The South China Morning Post reported that this is China’s biggest reported purchase or lease of farmland overseas, and the Kyiv Post called the deal “an unprecedented foreign investment” in the Ukrainian agricultural sector.
The Ukraine is hardly the only farming heartland to see Chinese buyers; other Chinese purchases have been seen in South America, where Beidahuang bought 234,000 hectares for corn and soybeans alongside Chongquing Grain, which spent US$375 million on soybean plantations in Brazil and US$1.2 billion on soybean, corn, and cotton plantations in Argentina.
China has recently attempted to increase domestic grain output while simultaneously increasing grain imports. 14 million tons of imported cereal represented a 150 percent increase from 2011’s numbers. Ding Li, a senior agricultural researcher with Anbound Consulting in Beijing, said of the effort that “as urbanization speeds up, consumption has led to greater food demand and domestic grain prices have stayed above global prices. Therefore, China has been importing more and more grain.”
China’s farmland purchasing policies have turned a few heads around the world. The Chinese buying spree has worried some Australian politicians, who have been calling for greater scrutiny since the Chinese scooped up the island nation’s largest cotton farm in 2012.[Image via this YouTube video of some Ukrainian farmers harvesting in 2008]