Russia offers agricultural land for Southeast Asian farmers to grow crops

Bloomberg | 12 August 2011
Photo: Mikhail Mordasov/AFP/Newcom

By Karl Lester M. Yap

Russia is offering agricultural land to Southeast Asian nations to grow crops and help secure reliable food supplies, part of wider efforts to foster trade and investment ties in new markets.

“We suggested today to companies in the region to enter the Russian market given its large scale and to establish themselves to produce food for your own supply,” Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Slepnev said yesterday in an interview in Manado, Indonesia, where he is attending a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations trade ministers.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is turning to Asia to boost exports as his country’s economy struggles to grow at the pace it did before a 2009 recession. Russia is targeting grain buyers in Southeast Asia to regain its share of the world market after lifting an export ban in July, the Moscow-based Institute for Agricultural Market Studies said Aug. 1.

“Many Asian governments are exploring alternatives to secure food supplies over the long term given that the demographic and environmental pressures in Asia could lead to structural food shortages in the years to come,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economic research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. “In fact, it’s already showing up in greater inflation pressures in the agricultural sectors in the region.”

Asian nations are seeking stable food supplies after data compiled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization showed global prices surged to a record this year. India’s food inflation accelerated to a three-month high, a report showed yesterday.

Food Prices

Indonesia, the world’s third-largest rice consumer, may seek to negotiate an agreement with India and Pakistan to secure rice supplies, the Southeast Asian nation’s Trade Minister Mari Pangestu said in a separate interview yesterday.

Food prices will remain higher in the next decade than in the past 10 years as agricultural production slows and demand increases, the OECD and the United Nations said in a joint report in June.

Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, is exploring possible investments with Southeast Asian nations in power generation, alternative energy and natural-resources exploration as it seeks to boost demand for the commodities it produces, Slepnev said.

“The center of world development is shifting to the Asian region,” he said. “Of course, the region will become an even bigger energy consumer.”

Russia’s economy, which grew at an average of 7 percent annually from 2000 to 2008, expanded 3.4 percent from a year earlier in the second quarter, missing economists’ forecasts, a report showed yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karl Lester M. Yap in Manila at [email protected]
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at [email protected]

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