Liberia among top 5 countries giving farmland to foreigners

Actmedia News Agency | Thursday, 12 January 2012

Liberia among top 5 countries giving farmland to foreigners

Liberia is one of the top 5 countries in the world whose farmland are under the control of foreign concessionaires, according to a report made by Grain, a non-governmental organization supporting small farms.  The other countries include Laos, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, Indonesia and Romania.  At world level, most target countries for farming land purchases made by foreign companies or citizens are in Africa or South America but investors do not avoid Australia, eastern Europe or South-East Asia as well.

Foreigners own more than 1% of farming areas in Africa in 20 out of the 56 countries of the continent. In Liberia foreign companies control 67% of the farming land, which is 200,000 hectares. In Sierra Leone, 15% of the land is leased on a long term or is owned by foreign companies. The same situation can be found in South America, in countries like Paraguay or Uruguay, where foreigners own a quarter of farming lands.

Romania ranks first among European countries for the percentage of farming land owned by foreign companies. In the local market, foreign investors own 7% of the farming land, which is 700,000 hectares. In the Czech Republic, non-residents own 4%, while in Ukraine investors own 3%. Foreigners hold in Romania farming land worth 1.5 billion euro for 700,000 ha of land, according to data of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and an average price of 2,000 euro/ha.

Investors exploit land in Romania by means of local companies. Foreign citizens cannot purchase land unless they have stable residence in Romania or buy as a juridical person.

Cereal traders, big multinational companies in the food industry, banks and investment and pension funds are among the most active investors in farming land. On the background of the economic crisis investors considered that placement in land is safer than placements in shares, bonds or precious metals.

According to Liberian law, only Liberian citizens or qualified foreigners can own land.  Foreign companies investing in agriculture in Liberia may sign a long-term lease, renewable for the life of their investment.

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