What started as a government drive to secure cheap food resource has now become a viable business model and many Gulf companies are venturing into agricultural investments to diversify their portfolios.
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the government has so far not requested for any input from the Foreign Office regarding interest shown by foreign parties to lease Pakistani land for agriculture. “But if my ministry is asked for its input, then I would not oppose this move completely."
The problem is that we will lose control. Of course, some regulatory framework will be put in place, but it will also include ceding of control over our land resource to foreigners for a yet-to-be-specified time period.
Saudi Arabia announces the launch of Agroinvest, which will focus on farm acquisitions abroad to grow wheat, rice, soybeans and other crops in Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan and Turkey
It's certainly questionable whether the lease of agricultural land to foreign countries for the purposes of their own food supply is in the best interests of Pakistan, even if it brings in agricultural technology. What do the Arab farmers have that our agricultural universities don't?
Pakistan's Ministry of Investment has decided to offer more than 7 million acres of farmland for long-term investment to the Emirates Investment Group and others. China and Saudi Arabia are also interested.
"Over the past few weeks the Saudi government has been in talks with us to lease 500,000 acres (202,400 hectares) of farmland and we are currently in the process of locating which land we could give them," Tauqir Ahmad Faiq at the ministry of agriculture, said