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July 26, 2010

South African farmers get more land offers in Africa

by Shapi Shacinda

A South African farmers group said on July 9 it had received fresh offers from African states, including Sudan and Mozambique, to invest in agriculture to grow export crops and some of the deals will be concluded soon.

Agri SA deputy president Theo de Jager also said the farmer's group would within the next two months visit China to conclude an agreement over joint investment ventures with Chinese public firms in agriculture on the African continent.

"Sudan has made land available in the upper Nile Delta, where they focus on sugar production while Egypt is inviting more South African farmers to go and start growing fruits," de Jager said in an interview.

"In Mozambique, they are offering us land to grow sugarcane for biofuels, but we will run into competition with Brazilian farmers," he said. Zambia was also offering land for growing maize, de Jager said.

"A lot of financiers want to get the commitment of farmers that they will invest in some African countries before they can make available funds to invest in infrastructure such as electricity, roads and dams," de Jager said. "The Chinese have also approached us saying funds are available. They want to create a market for their chemicals industry and also for equipment."

AgriSA had expected to conclude a major farmland deal with the Republic of Congo and to agree a 35,000 hectare land lease with Libya in 2009.

De Jager said a lack of bilateral agreements between South Africa and these countries discouraged farmers to invest in Libya and the Republic of Congo as there would be no guarantee of investments.

The deal, part of Congo's plan to improve food security by allowing South African farmers to lease land for up to 105 years to grow maize, soya beans as well as for poultry and dairy, will be one of the biggest land agreements on the continent.


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