Friday, May 25, 2012


China is a country loved by many, hated equally by many and admired by many, depending on what criterion is used. Its pole vaulting into global economic summit and talking as an equal with established world powers has been both dramatic and amazing, calling for admiration all around. But it is hated world over when one looks at its brutality and remorseless suppression of the citizens denying the fundamental rights enjoyed in many democratic countries. No doubt China has built a solid foundation for its technological and industrial growth though the inputs from the erstwhile Soviet Union during early stages should not be forgotten. Full credit must be given to the farmers of the country for raising food production and productivity in almost all crops, making it the top producer of many foods. All said and done, China still lives in rural hinterlands and through shrewd policy orchestrations the country was able to back up the farming community remarkably well. Latest instance of governments long term vision is reflected in the frenetic pace with which it is trying to build up its swine food industry by transforming small scale rural farms into large industrial production centers. Unwittingly the US is helping China to achieve this goal through supply of technology and other inputs with a short term objective of earning dollars from this dollar rich country! Here is a take on this interesting development which should be an eye opener for others like India.

"In a country where pork is a culinary staple, the demand for a protein-rich diet is growing faster than Chinese farmers can keep up. While Americans cut back on meat consumption to the lowest levels seen in two decades, the Chinese now eat nearly 10 percent more meat than they did five years ago. China's solution: to super-size its supply by snapping up millions of live animals raised by U.S. farmers as breeding stock - capitalizing on decades of cutting edge agricultural research in America. By taking this step, say breeders and exporters, China will move from small-scale backyard farms, to the Westernized tradition of large consolidated operations to keep up with demand. "I liken it to their telephone system," said Mike Lemmon, co-owner of the Whiteshire Hamroc farm, which specializes in exporting breeding swine to China. "Most of China's mainland went from having no landlines to everyone having a cell phone. They're doing the same thing with farming." Focus on livestock genetics also represents an emerging economic bonanza for two of the United States' most powerful industries: technology and agriculture. Worldwide, the United States exported a record $664 million worth of breeding stock and genetic material such as semen in 2011. But as fortune shines on breeders, concerns are being raised. While U.S. consumption of meat falls, the price of producing a pound of protein rises, meaning meat companies are seeing their margins shrink. That has prompted some critics to question whether the short-term gains of this trend will result in a longer-term loss of a key export market for American meat producers. This is, after all, a well-trod path in China's pursuit of efficiency: import a technology or create a joint-venture; learn the best practices; apply those practices at a lower cost than overseas rivals; and emerge as an aggressive competitor in the global market".

Whether such a move will prove to be beneficial in the long run is a big question mark only future can provide the answer. While increased production of pigs can definitely have an adverse impact on the carbon emissions globally, higher consumption of meat will have undesirable consequences on the health of the citizens in that country. As for the US, this is a country which does not seem to be learning any thing from the past dealings with China. If at all any single country which has continuously assisted China for more than 3 decades in its technological frog leaping it is the US with its huge investments on the industry there based on technology sharing mode. Chinese products made with US technology but with cheap Chinese labor are creating serious unemployment in the US because Chinese made products are invariably much cheaper than that made within the country. It is time the US wakes up to the real danger posed by China in the economic development through ways and means that cannot be considered truly transparent and honest.


No comments: