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September 19, 2010

Bangladesh eyes shared-farming in west Africa

Bangladesh said on September 15 it was in talks with respective governments for cultivating rice in four West African countries on fifty-fifty share contracts.

"The authorities in Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Liberia have expressed their interests in our proposals to produce rice there," Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes told a news conference.

Bangladesh made the proposals separately to those governments for expansion of farming in unutilised arable lands, Quayes said on his return from a visit to the African countries. The countries have huge unused cultivable lands, which Bangladesh thinks could boost food productions, he said.

"If we are allowed to cultivate their unused arable lands, we can bring benefits for Bangladesh and the respective partner countries employing our farmers there," Quayes said.

Bangladesh, the world's fourth-biggest rice producer, harvested a record high rice crop of more than 34.45 million tonnes in the year to June. The production was sufficient to feed nearly 160 million people in the 142,000 sq km (55,500 miles) Bangladesh, which often faces food crunches due to natural calamity.

Fertile west African countries generally cultivate rain-dependent crops and Bangladesh has expertise and manpower to grow staple crops round the year using irrigation.

Besides rice, there is scope to cultivate jute, coffee, rubber and cocoa and set up food processing plants in those countries, Quayes said.

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