East Africa-Middle East invest in farmland

Farming UK | 16/01/2009

Some of the richest nations on the planet, are now buying up farms in Africa with Sovereign Funds, in order to guarantee food supplies for the future.

Lured by the fertile land and cheap labor on the Horn of Africa, Gulf countries from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain are snapping up farmland in the under-developed African nations of Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya.

Hadco, a Saudi agricultural company, has just spent US$90 million of farmland in Sudan, north of Khartoum in the Nile valley.

The Emirates government has just purchased 70,000 acres, south of Khartoum.

While the Sudan has exports of cotton, it in fact imports a million tons of wheat each year.

Ethiopia is selling much of its farmland to Saudi Arabia, yet the nation has a history of famine and relies on food aid.

"These investments will help bore for new water and the partnerships can help lift our farmers from poverty", said Abdadaffie Fadlalah, the agricultural commissioner, at the Sudan Investment Ministry.

The foreign investors put networks on canals through their land, from the Nile and employ hundreds of locals on each property.

Saudi investment runs into billions of dollars, using the same technology that allows them to grow wheat in the desert at home.

This investment has increased this year, despite the US economic sanctions and an International Court, genocide prosecution pending.

To lure investment dollars. the Sudan government has removed import duties on agricultural equipment being imported into the country.

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