chapter  2
28 Pages

Agricultural Development in China and Africa in Historical Perspective

In order to understand the current performance of agricultural development in different countries, it is necessary to trace back to historical factors. China and Africa are both cradles of the world’s agricultural civilization. China emerged 4,000 years ago at the far eastern end of the Eurasian continent as a unique and autonomous society established on the basis of agriculture rather than commerce and was ruled by landlords and bureaucrats rather than merchants and politicians (Stavrianos, 1999). China’s ancient and modern rulers placed importance on agriculture while restraining commerce. After 1949 China began to emphasize industrialization and modernization; nevertheless, agriculture still played a leading role in the development strategy of the nation. Similarly, development in Africa has always been underpinned by agriculture, from the early fifteenth century when Africa maintained a selfsufficient economy, to the middle of the twentieth century. However, agricultural development in Africa has displayed different characteristics at different historical stages. Agriculture is the pillar of development in most African countries, except for those relying primarily on mineral resources.