Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Title for My New Book?

OK, here is where I really need some help from readers. I am down to the wire on a title for my new book on Chinese agricultural investment (or not) in Africa. I had what I thought was a great title, Feeding Frenzy, which would play off of the general perception that the Chinese are leading the land grab in Africa, to grow food to ship back to China. (There is little evidence of any grand strategy to do this, let alone of Chinese farms in Africa growing food for China -- at least for now). Then, a few months ago, someone else published a book with that title. It's about the global food crisis and not about China and Africa, but my publisher (Oxford again), emailed me on Friday: "Ok - we're at the finish line for titles. We need one asap (for the catalog). Feeding Frenzy is taken and doesn't work." They proposed The African Rice Bowl: China, [Global] Food Security, and the Agricultural Revolution in Africa [or African Agricultural Revolution].
Hmmmm ... this doesn't work for me. It's too much of an echo of other writers who have argued the thesis I am going to dispute, i.e. that China does want to make Africa into its rice bowl.
Here are a few other thoughts:
1. Green Dreams: Myths and Realities of China's Agricultural Engagement in Africa
2. Mandarin Harvest: Fact and Fiction of Chinese "Land Grabs" in Africa
3. No Easy Harvest: Chinese Farms in Africa
4. Will Africa Feed China? Investigating land grabs and food security ...
5. The Dragon's Harvest: Chinese Agribusiness in Africa
Feedback? Other ideas?

Update, October 10: Oxford has decided to go with Will Africa Feed China? -- no subtitle, but the cover will have a blurb or other written material that makes the point about the myths and realities. They liked the link with Lester Brown's famous 1995 book: "Who Will Feed China?" and the simplicity of the title which, they said, "says it all."  So there we are. If anyone thinks this is really a problem title, please post! I still shudder to recall the original title selected by my last editor for The Dragon's Gift. They wanted to call it Rogue Donor? The book will be published at some point next year, probably in the summer.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ph.D. candidates, China-Africa Economic Engagement

I am again looking for an excellent candidate to undertake Ph.D. research on China-Africa economic engagement under my supervision, to enter in the Fall of 2015. SAIS offers fully funded Ph.D. fellowships. Candidates must already have an MA degree, ideally in development studies, economics, or international relations.

The ideal candidate will have some background in China-Africa relations, fluency in Chinese including the ability to read Chinese, field experience, and excellent English. Admission will depend on academic excellence (high GPA, excellent GRE scores), and a convincing statement of research interests that includes China's going-out engagement in Africa, broadly defined. This year I am particularly interested in candidates with interests in infrastructure, mining, and development finance. Quantitative skills (econometrics), Portuguese or French would be assets, but not required.

The deadline for applications is December 15. For more information, and to apply, consult the SAIS Ph.D. program website here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Missing: Chinese Farm in Togo

aboutppp.jpg Demonstration plot, Togo
Over the past couple of years I have been hard at work on a new book focused on China's agricultural investments in Africa. Some are very hard to track down. China State Farm Agribusiness Corporation (中国农垦)'s Togo Agriculture Development Company Ltd. for example. They reportedly developed a small-scale mixed farm offering demonstration and technical services in modern aquaculture, poultry, and pigs in an alluvial area 30 kilometers north of Lomé, according to a paper by J. R. Chaponniere and Zheng Qi, but as of 2014, we have not been able to find a trace of it.
Readers with Togo experience: do you know anything about this CSFAC investment? (It's not the same as the Anie Sugar Complex.)