The region continues to have great market potential as a number of Thai rice companies have offices there and some have been approached by local governments to invest there in milling, processing and even growing rice.
Capital Rice and Asia Golden Rice, both in Thailand, recently formed a business alliance with the Stallion Group, Nigeria's largest conglomerate, to supply rice to this major African market. The next step is to export rice-planting know-how and invest in Nigerian farmland.
A conference for fund managers tied to agriculture held annually in Sydney by Austock, an Australian broker, attracted a few dozen contrarian souls three years ago. This year’s event, which began on March 16th, had to be restricted to several hundred ticket-holders, with many others turned away.
Nomadic herders, rarely a priority for governments, are being dispossessed by bioethanol developments in Kenya, says Michael Taylor of the International Land Coalition (ILC), and they also depend on the “unused” land that Madagascar offered Daewoo.
The initial welcome given to rich countries’ investment in African farmland by agricultural and development officials has faded as the first ventures prove to be heavily weighted in favour of the investors. The FAO warned of such a trend when it said this year that the race to secure farmland overseas risked creating a “neo-colonial” system.
Three new investment funds controlled by prominent Gulf investors will sink at least US$2.8 billion (Dh10.3 bn) into infrastructure, agriculture and hospitality projects in the Middle East and South Asia.
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.