With vast tracts of land being sold in Madagascar, and Sudan and other African governments actively seeking investors in agricultural land, are we witnessing a neo-colonial land grab or will the investment result in greater food productivity to the long-term benefit of recipient nations?
Egypt will receive a number of UAE delegations next month to discuss proposals involving agriculture, land reclamation and the food industry in southern Egypt, as well as infrastructure and renewable energy projects.
The UAE and other Gulf oil producers are considering creating a giant fund to invest in farm in fertile Arab areas and other nations to slash a soaring import bill and ease reliance on foreign markets for their food.
The rulers in the Persian Gulf are looking at other ways of ensuring food security. Rather than rely on the vagaries of the market and unstable import sources, countries across the GCC, through sovereign wealth funds and development agencies, are seeking to buy up the means of production itself.
Al Qudra Holding, the Abu Dhabi-based investment company, plans to acquire roughly 400,000 hectares of land in the Middle East, East Africa and Far East by the end of the first quarter of next year in a major expansion of its agricultural operations.
Both public and private sector investors in the Gulf are also looking at ways to improve local food supplies, by investing in a range of outlets from arable farm land in the Sudan, Algeria and Pakistan to introduce new technology to enhance the local production of foodstuffs and grains, livestock, poultry and fish.