‘Foreigners own 74 m acres of farmland in Africa’: What will prospective candidates do about this?

"These farmland deals have many economic, social and political implications for both investors and Nigeria," says Ken Ukaoha

Daily Trust | Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Sunday Williams

    About 74 million acres of farmland in the developing world were acquired by foreign governments/investors over the first half of 2009 which equals to half of Europe’s farmland, the President of National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) Ken Ukaoha has said.

    He made the remarks in Abuja at the validation of the study on ‘land grab’ in Nigeria and its effects on small scale farmers.

    The NANTS president said that a report from the FAO confirmed that 1.2 billion people worldwide live in hunger, adding that the number is an increase of more than 100 million people since 2006 and represents a major setback in MDGs efforts to half hunger by 2015.

    He said: “This increase in hunger comes at a time of great uncertainty for global ecosystem and for economic structures and institutions. For the first time in three decades, there is strong agreement among policy makers that more investments in agriculture is needed in poor countries to address hunger and poverty.”

    He said that in Nigeria today foreign acquisition of arable agriculture land has become a hot and widely discuss issue, adding that the trend is driven by the attitude of Nigerian government to accept deals from wealthy food importing nations that have the capital to invest in agriculture.

    “These farmland deals whether in the form of purchases or leases, have many economic, social and political implications for both investors and Nigeria.

    The combination of land, food and money has produced strong interest and debate about whether these represent much needed investments or foreign “land grab.”

    He said that the workshop will afford stakeholders the opportunity to rub minds towards intolerable land deals and framing a code of conduct or legislation that will ensure that land deals between Nigeria and foreign countries are beneficial as well as sustainable to small holder farmers.

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