Zambia urges Gulf farm investment in Riyadh

Leasing farmland to foreign investors has been long regarded as a form of colonialism especially in Africa that has long history of Western colonialism.

Zambia urges Gulf farm investment in Riyadh

Zambia is encouraging Gulf countries to invest in its agricultural sector, its finance minister said on Saturday.

Leasing farmland to foreign investors has been long regarded as a form of colonialism especially in Africa that has long history of Western colonialism.

Foreign acquisitions of agricultural land in developing nations have provoked opposition among indigenous farmers and led the United Nations to voice concern over the lack of agreed guidelines to protect farmers rights.

But investors and governments in developing countries say that such deals usher in a "win-win" situation by boosting food security for all parties involved.

"This is not colonialism," Zambian Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

"Colonialism is like when you come with a gun, then you say you are under my control. But this is investment, there is nothing wrong with that," he added.

Zambia allocated two major farm tracts last year, each over 100,000 hectares in size, to be divided between foreign and local farmers to grow cash crops. But the roll-out has been hindered by delays in putting up infrastructure on the sites.

"We have a lot of agricultural space and we can accommodate [Gulf investors] on a large scale," said Musokotwane.

So far, Zambia had only signed a few small farmland deals, and is looking to attract more foreign investment into the sector, said Musokotwane.

"We are in talks with a private Saudi company that want 5,000 hectares to grow fruits and also to build a factory to produce juice," he said, declining to reveal the firm's name or give details on the value of the deal.

"We hope to have things settled (in) three months time."


Agencies

Last Mod: 05 Aralık 2010, 14:53
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