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Chinese largest agricultural firm to buy farmland in Latin America

China’s largest agricultural enterprise, Heilongjiang Beidahuang Nongken Group, will acquire or lease 200,000 hectares of cropland in countries including Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Russia, The Philippines, Australia and Zimbabwe

China, the world’s most populous country with 1.34 billion citizens, is experiencing an agricultural deficit that has spurred the authorities to seek access to crops outside its territory. In fact, according to somewhat dated statistics, less than 11 percent of Chinese territory is arable, though the country has ample technology, labor and capital.

The state-run company invested more than $38 million between 2005 and 2010 in a global expansion for which the particulars varied by country, Heilongjiang’s chairman, Sui Fengfu, said.

“In Venezuela and Zimbabwe, the group mainly provides machinery and laborers, and takes about 20 percent of the harvest in return,” Sui said. “In Australia, it is mainly through the acquisition of local farmland. In Brazil and Argentina, the business model involves renting land.”

“Countries in South America, for example, have arable land and need our technology and investment, and they welcome our companies. It’s a win-win solution,” Wang Yunkun, deputy director of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, said.

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