Congo-Brazzaville: Free Land Expected to Lure South African Farmers

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TradeInvest Africa (Cape Town) | 17 April 2009

Cape Town — The Republic of Congo offered 10 million hectares of farm land to South African farmers to grow maize, soya beans and also establish poultry and dairy farms.

In the deal being touted as the biggest in recent African history, farmers would be able to lease the land for free for 99 years. Other deal sweeteners include a five-year holiday on corporate tax and tax exemption on all the agricultural inputs.

Farmers will be allowed to take all their profits out of the country and are under no obligation to sell their output on the domestic market.

An estimated 1300 farmers have shown interest in farming in the country and are expected to relocate by June.

Speaking to SAPA, South African farm Union AgriSA deputy president Theo de Jager however said food prices in the Congo are high, making the domestic market attractive.

Congo has had to import 99% of its food in recent years due to a volatile political situation. The population of about four million people is concentrated in the south-west of the country, leaving the vast areas of tropical jungle in the north virtually uninhabited.

South Africa has one of the most developed agriculture sectors on the continent and is Africa's top maize producer and third largest wheat grower.
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