Emergent

Food security fears drive fund farm investments

The emergence of the farmland asset class is not without pitfalls with the provision of food always highly political and a tentative global economic recovery potentially threatened by the H1N1 flu pandemic, fund managers said.

‘Agrologistics’ at home and abroad

Private equity used to stay away from anything to do with agriculture, put off by the uncontrollable risks of bad climate and natural disasters. And yet in the last three years some big funds have been launched in the agribusiness space, and they are busy trying different ways of mitigating the risks.

All about investing in agricultural land

As with timberland, while direct ownership and management (i.e., being a farmer), is a possibility, such a route is similarly fraught with difficulties. One of the most significant of these is the issue of diversification in the farmland itself - especially with a single investment. A well-diversified holding of farmland (row crop, permanent crop, pasture and even timber) will, therefore, not only require a significant investment, but may also involve land holdings in a number of different locations.

Buy into Africa

Cru, a small specialist fund management firm, recently launched a Malawi-based fund called Africa Invest. The fund has made an initial investment of £2m in 2,000 hectares of land that’s producing paprika for western supermarkets. With land prices starting at £800 per hectare (compared to £10,000 in the UK) it’s relatively easy to amass large farms that can be upgraded with new technology, mechanisation and better production methods. According to Cru, annual returns on capital should exceed 30 to 40 per cent.

Food Is Gold, So Billions Invested in Farming

Huge investment funds have already poured hundreds of billions of dollars into booming financial markets for commodities like wheat, corn and soybeans. But a few big private investors are starting to make bolder and longer-term bets that the world’s need for food will greatly increase — by buying farmland, fertilizer, grain elevators and shipping equipment.