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September 24, 2009

South Korea to develop farmland tract in Tanzania

Congested South Korea will develop a large tract of land in Tanzania for farming and food processing in its latest attempt to establish agriculture overseas, officials said in late September.

The state-run Korea Rural Community Corp (KRC) said it would in October sign a memorandum of understanding to work 100 000 hectares (247 000 acres) in the east African nation's Pwani province over the next six years.

Half will be developed and handed over to local farmers and the rest will be available for South Korean food processing companies to produce cooking oil, wine and starch.

"Some African countries export fruit and import fruit juice, or export olives and import olive oil, simply because their past colonialists did not teach them how to process food," said KRC overseas development team leader Lee Ki-Churl.

"We plan to set up an education centre for Tanzanian farmers in the food processing zone in order to transfer agricultural know-how and irrigation expertise to them," he said.

He said up to 100-billion won (83-million dollars) will be spent on developing an initial 10 000 hectares of land over the next few years.

Details on development of the remaining land, which could cost up to 800-billion won, would be drawn up in the future.

Heavily populated and resource-poor South Korea is looking overseas to secure stable supplies of natural resources, including food.

Hyundai Heavy Industries said in April it had reached a deal to develop 5 0000 hectares of Russian farmland, to produce 60 000 tons of corn and beans annually by 2014.

Last year South Korea's Daewoo Logistics said it had won initial approval from the Madagascar government to lease 1.3-million hectares of farmland - half the size of Belgium.

But the deal has been thrown into doubt amid political unrest there.


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