Food security is a national preoccupation in China. Between 1959-61, the Great Famine led to an indeterminate 20-to-43 million premature deaths. President Xi was six years old at the onset of the disaster. ChemChina’s $43 billion takeover of Switzerland-based Syngenta is the current expression of that anxiety. Among other points, the deal means that China will become a top agrochemical producer. Less prominent news, but equally important, is the pending development of Sunqiao Shanghai, a compact agricultural district about 15 kilometers from the city center. Expect to see vertical greenhouses growing spinach, lettuce, and kale, alongside aquaponic farms and research facilities. Sunqiao Shanghai is still in the concept phase, but the master plan points to robust Chinese leadership in agtech ventures. For Beijing, copious billions allocated to farm-related investment is a type of insurance policy. The nation will never produce enough food for its population, but it can help to ensure the rest of the world is able to supply it. ■
Our Vantage Point: China is a primary player in global agricultural investment. Economists point to the need to boost sector productivity. There are also deep socio-political reasons behind the move.
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Image: Soil-less agriculture is also known as hydroponic farming. Credit: Inzyx at Can Stock Photo Inc.