"Many Indian companies are already in the process of making a foray into the farming sector in Africa. We can also take the opportunity by accruing lands in these countries for growing high-value cash crops," says Kazi M. Aminul Islam. Chairman Bangladesh Investment Development Authority.
Move to acquire lands in Sudan for farming
by Kazi Zahidul Hasan
The government has decided to acquire land in Sudan in a bid to explore commercial farming opportunities in the Northeast African country.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting convened by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) on September 10 this year.
An 11-member 'implementation taskforce,' headed by Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Kazi M. Aminul Islam, was formed, at the meeting, implement the government's decision on the land lease in Sudan.
The committee has been directed to enact a roadmap detailing prospects of fisheries, livestock and agro-farming, assessment of existing policies of the host country, possible necessarily of time, preparing term of reference on lease target and review of the government policies regarding such investments abroad and recommend necessary amendments, if any.
Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Agriculture, Foreign, Law, Fisheries and Livestock and Bangladesh Bank attended the meeting, with Abul Kalam Azad, Chief Coordinator for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Affairs in the PMO in chair.
Officials said, the September 10 meeting was a follow up initiative in light of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's directive issued on 23 August 2010 regarding long-term land lease in African countries, including Sudan, considering the country's long-term food security and volatile food prices in the global market.
"We have decided to tap farming opportunity in Sudan considering the food security and food price volatility in the global market," Kazi M. Aminul Islam told The New Nation yesterday.
He said that lands would be taken on lease for 99 years, to operate large commercial firms. Local business community earlier also sent proposal to consider tapping the emerging farming opportunities in Sudan.
"Not only Sudan, we're also considering other African countries for investment in various potential sectors by local entrepreneurs," he added.
Kazi M. Aminul Islam, however, said the government has taken a cautious policy on overseas investment considering various risk factors. "But, we will allow overseas investment under the cautious policy."
According to media report, many countries like Britain, the United States, China, India, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, South Africa, Israel and Egypt are also vying for land lease in other African nations such as Congo, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Ghana, Rwanda, Mozambique and Ethiopia analyzing opportunities in commercial agriculture there.
The Indian and Chinese investors have already engaged in long-term land lease agreement with Sudanese government and operating large farms in Sudan.
"Many Indian companies are already in the process of making a foray into the farming sector in Africa. We can also take the opportunity by accruing lands in these countries for growing high-value cash crops," said Kazi M. Aminul Islam.