The UAE and its food-importing neighbours are “particularly vulnerable” to spiralling costs and should make significant investments in “contract farming” in Africa and Asia, says the UN’s Gulf food chief, Dr Kayan Jaff.
Recent attempts by Persian Gulf countries to invest in farmlands abroad to counter soaring inflation and guarantee long-term food security could prove to be a win-win situation in the short term for both the oil-rich region and its investment-hungry neighbors, but continued high oil prices may neutralize the gains in the long-run, say experts.
The Saudi government announced that it would co-ordinate with local private-sector companies and invest in strategic agricultural interests in key producer countries such as Brazil, Ukraine, Thailand and India, guaranteeing for itself supplies of cereals, meat and vegetables. It is already in advanced negotiations with Thai investors and a deal on rice farms in Thailand is likely before the end of the year.
La société de développement agricole du Maroc (Sodea) et la Société de gestion des terres agricoles (Sogeta) viennent d’achever la deuxième phase de présélection des candidats pour l’exploitation sous forme de partenariat public-privé de 38?731 ha de terres agricoles, dont 5?800 ha sont déjà plantés.
To break the runaway inflation that is fuelled by high food costs, Gulf rulers have a new strategy: they are buying unused agricultural land in poor countries like Pakistan, Thailand and Sudan, and becoming large-scale farmers.
“Buying farms is not a bad thing,” Panos Konandreas, acting director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Geneva, said in a telephone interview. “If you are like Saudi Arabia and have all the resources in the world, you can help farms optimize their strategies and there will be more production.”
Dubai-based Abraaj Capital, one of the Middle East’s largest private equity companies, has been quietly buying farmland in Pakistan as part of plans by the United Arab Emirates to increase food security and to damp inflation.