By Yan Huan, Bi Mengying, People's Daily
Agriculture possesses a vital position in BRICS countries and is directly related to 42 percent of the global population.
In recent years, BRICS countries have made continuous efforts to establish a long-term and stable cooperation mechanism focusing on food security and poverty reduction, enhancing exchanges in agricultural production and technological innovation. As a result, they have achieved fruitful results in deepening pragmatic agricultural cooperation.
Agricultural trade between BRICS countries and other countries reached $588.3 billion last year, surging 128 percent from that in 2010. Besides, BRICS countries are seeing an expansion of their agricultural influence globally as their combined gross agricultural production accounts for more than half of the world's total. BRICS agricultural cooperation has made contributions to global food security and injected impetus into economic recovery in the post-pandemic era.
China is the largest buyer of Brazilian beans, beef and chicken. Jean Taruhn, Special Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture of Brazil, noted that Brazil-China agricultural trade is crucial. According to him, Brazil exported $45 billion of agricultural products to China in 2021.
"The trade complementarity between the two countries has very much benefited Brazil's agricultural industry. Brazil is lifting the image of its products based on the demands of the Chinese market, so as to diversify its exports," Taruhn said.
Ronnie Lins, an economist and director of the China-Brazil Center for Research and Business, believes BRICS countries enjoy broad space for cooperation in agricultural trade.
He explained that the five countries have rich climate, environment, land, fishery and other natural resources, and occupy half of the world's irrigation area, 40 percent of the world's cereal production area, and a market of around 3.2 billion people, which creates favorable preconditions for agricultural cooperation.
Besides, BRICS countries are all agricultural powerhouses and their markets match each other well, Lins said. "The BRICS agricultural cooperation will keep making important contributions to coping with the global food crisis in the post-pandemic era," he noted.
The five countries are enhancing cooperation under the BRICS mechanism to train professional personnel for the modernization of agriculture and rural areas.
By the end of 2021, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs had trained 295 agricultural technicians and management personnel from South Africa in multiple fields such as rice cultivation, agricultural machine production and application, plant protection, renewable energy utilization, aquaculture and fishery management.
Besides, China Agricultural University, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science and other scientific institutions have nurtured over 50 doctoral and master's students from South Africa.
As e-commerce constitutes an important part of both digital economy and real economy, e-commerce cooperation has become a vital force driving the agricultural development and trade of BRICS countries.
Today, agricultural products from Brazil, Russia and South Africa are entering the Chinese market via e-commerce platforms, and BRICS countries are seeing increasing agricultural investment.
At the end of April, a live commerce activity under the BRICS framework was held as China took over the BRICS chairmanship this year, during which a number of featured products from BRICS countries were introduced to Chinese consumers, including South African wine, Brazilian coffee beans, Indian seasoning powder and Russian chocolate.
As of May 12, the sales of these products had reached 270 million yuan ($40.3 million) on major Chinese e-commerce platforms. During the activity, Chinese coffeehouse chains reached an agreement with its cooperation partners, planning to buy a total of 45,000 tonnes of coffee beans worth 1.5 billion yuan from Brazil between 2023 and 2025.
"We take innovation and digital economy as a major area of growth in the next couple of years, which will impact the global economy and help reduce poverty and social inequality," Lins said BRICS countries have significant global influence.
Luis Paulino, an expert on China at the Sao Paulo State University, promotes the development of "Internet plus agriculture" and agricultural cross-border e-commerce to build a fast track for agricultural innovation and cooperation. BRICS countries are expected to forge a future in which innovation and digital cooperation possess a larger role, he noted.