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.
Gulf oil producers need to set up agricultural projects in fertile Arab countries to achieve self-sufficiency and to bridge a massive farm deficit that exceeded $12 billion (Dh44bn) in 2006, a Gulf group said yesterday.
“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.”
The Moroccan government has pursued a strategy of leasing state-farms previously under the management of Société de Développement Agricole (SODEA). A large number of bids were made by agricultural businesses from France, Egypt, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.