Emirates Business 24/7 | Thursday, June 04, 2009
By VM Sathish
The UAE Government is holding talks with Thailand about plans to develop huge livestock farms and produce halal products in the Southeast Asian country.
A senior Thai official in Dubai, who did not wish to be named, told Emirates Business that his government had spoken to a number of GCC governments about the proposals.
"As part of its food security strategy, the UAE Government is keen to promote commercial offshore agriculture and livestock production," added the official, who is involved in bilateral business and trade relations with the UAE.
"Thailand is one of the few countries in the world that could achieve 100 per cent self-reliance in food. Our climatic and geographic conditions suit livestock production.
"For the GCC countries the priority will be to develop livestock farms in the southern part of Thailand and the proposed major farms would produce goats, sheep and other animals."
The UAE already has ambitious plans to establish agricultural production centres in Sudan and Pakistan. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development intends to develop 70,000 acres of land for food production in Sudan.
Saudi Arabia has also announced plans for overseas farm, livestock and fisheries projects in a number of countries, and the Kingdom's ministry of agriculture recently gave a group of Saudi investors advice on the topic.
The proposals are part of a broader Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry plan to develop a strong halal food production chain covering many countries. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have announced moves to invest in developing agricultural farms in Asian and African countries as part of a food security plan.
Thailand is a major producer of poultry and beef, with the latter accounting for more than 50 per cent of the meat produced there. The country is also a major dairy producer.
The official said GCC investment in livestock production would focus on the southern provinces of Phuket, Phangnga, Krabi, Ranong, Trang and Satun, which are all agricultural and fishing areas with a considerable amount of arable land suitable for commercial livestock production. He said the GCC countries had expressed an interest in establishing rice farms but this would not be possible because of a shortage of suitable land.
"Our limited farmland is already used for white rice cultivation and we could not provide rice farms for GCC investors," he added. "They are looking at rice farms in other Asian countries."
Meanwhile, Charoen Pokpand Foods, Thailand's largest agri-business firm with operations in 14 countries, is planning a major investment to develop livestock farms in the Moscow region of Russia, according to official Thailand Government sources. A fodder plant has already been established and the entire project is due to be completed by 2012.And Thailand is also planning to invest in other Asian countries including Bang?ladesh and Pakistan with a view to producing dairy products and halal meat for the global market, targeting two billion Muslim consumers.