Bloomberg | 20 October 2009
By Ron Derby
Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- South African farmers will get 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of state land from the Congo Republic immediately to grow crops under a 30-year renewable lease.
“The deal has been finalized and they have made land available free of charge,” Theo de Jager, the deputy president of the Pretoria-based Agri SA, a union for South African farmers, said in a telephone interview today.
The land will not be specific for any type of crop, and there’s no restriction on exports, he said, adding that there was as much as 10 million hectares of “unutilized” land. The only condition is that the land is used, he said.
South Africa “encourages this type of expansion,” Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said at a conference in Muldersdrift, outside Johannesburg, on Oct. 9. The country needs “to ensure that we broaden the base for commercial agriculture.”South African farmers are looking for opportunities outside the country because of a scarcity of land and water in the country. South Africa is one of the driest countries in the world, according to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.