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Qatar looks to grow food in Kenya

Discussion in 'Kenyan News and Politics' started by BAK, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

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    Dec 3, 2008
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    Qatar looks to grow food in Kenya

    The Gulf state has joined a growing list of rich countries that want to grow food in poor countries

    Xan Rice in Nairobi guardian.co.uk, Tuesday December 2 2008 16.58 GMT

    [​IMG]
    Aerial view of Lamu island, off the Kenyan coast, where Qatar proposes to fund a £2.4bn port as part of a land deal with Nairobi. Photograph: Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis

    Qatar has asked Kenya to lease it 40,000 hectares of land to grow crops as part of a proposed package that would also see the Gulf state fund a new £2.4bn port on the popular tourist island of Lamu off the east African country.

    The deal is the latest example of wealthy countries and companies trying to secure food supplies from the developing world.

    Other Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have also been negotiating leases of large tracts of farmland in countries such as Sudan and Senegal since the global food shortages and price rises earlier this year.

    The Kenyan president, Mwai Kibaki, returned from a visit to Qatar on Monday. His spokesman said the request for land in the Tana river delta, south of Lamu, in north-east Kenya was being seriously considered.

    "Nothing comes for free," said Isaiah Kabira. "If you want people to invest in your country then you have to make concessions."

    But the deal is likely to cause concern in Kenya where fertile land is unequally distributed. Several prominent political families own huge tracts of farmland, while millions of people live in densely packed slums.

    The country is also experiencing a food crisis, with the government forced to introduce subsidies and price controls on maize this week after poor production and planning caused the price of the staple "ugali" flour to double in less than a year.

    Kibaki said that Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was keen to invest in a second port to complement Mombasa, which serves as a gateway for goods bound for Uganda and Rwanda and is struggling to cope with the large volumes of cargo.

    By building docks in Lamu, Kenya hopes to open a new trade corridor that will give landlocked Ethiopia and the autonomous region of Southern Sudan access to the Indian Ocean. Kabira said that if the financing was agreed, construction of the port would begin in 2010.

    Qatar, which has large oil and gas revenues, imports most of its food, as most of its land is barren desert and just 1% is suitable for arable farming. It has already reportedly struck deals this year to grow rice in Cambodia, maize and wheat in Sudan and vegetables in Vietnam.

    Much of the produce will be exported to the Gulf. Qatar's foreign ministry in Doha did not return calls today, but Kabira said that its intention was to grow "vegetables and fruit" in Kenya.

    The area proposed for the farming project is near the Tana river delta where the Kenyan government owns nearly 500,000 hectares (1.3m acres) of uncultivated land.

    But a separate agreement to allow a local company to grow sugarcane and build a factory in the area has attracted fierce opposition from environmentalists who say a pristine ecosystem of mangrove swamps, savannah and forests will be destroyed.

    Pastoralists, who regard the land as communal and rear up to 60,000 cattle to graze in the delta each dry season, are also opposed to the plan.

    "We will have to ensure that this new project is properly explained to the people before it can go ahead," said Kabira.

    The sudden rush by foreign governments and companies to secure food supplies in Africa has some experts worried. Jacques Diouf, director general of the UN's food and agricultural organisation (FAO), recently spoke of the risk of a "neo-colonial" agricultural system emerging.

    The FAO said some of the first overseas projects by Gulf companies in Sudan, where more than 5 million people receive international food aid, showed limited local benefits, with much of the specialist labour and farming inputs imported.


    A deal struck last month by Daewoo Logistics and Madagascar to grow crops on 1.3m hectares of land also attracted strong criticism. While the South Korean firm has promised to provide local jobs and will have to invest in building roads and farming infrastructure, it is paying no upfront fee and has a 99-year lease.
     
  2. Natty Bongoman

    Natty Bongoman JF-Expert Member

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    Dec 9, 2008
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    It is sad to see what colonists did, is being repeated so-called independent Afrikan countries. Why 99 years? In Sudan, same is being proposed at the expense of local natives farmers. Do our leaders think of and study long-term effects of deals they propose and executes? Do they ever respect people's objections?

    * I often wonder why these leaders, having seen the needs of these Arabs, don't they come home with plans of helping locals establish such farms for beneficial importation? To me, this is when I think 'rushwa' and greed to feed their own leadership bellies seems to be the explanation. Otherwise, they could strike a 99-years trade deal that we will supply the Arabs with food we grow ourselves, and turn around and develop these farms since the market is established by the deal. Wouldn't this be the approach of the leadership that cares for its people and has its people's interests at heart????????
     
  3. LazyDog

    LazyDog JF-Expert Member

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    Dec 10, 2008
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    Swali muhimu hilo, why 99 years?

    Kwanini isiwe miaka 30 na kwamba mkataba unakuwa reviewed kila baada ya miaka 20?
    Pande mbili zilizoingia kwenye mkataba zikubaliane ku-share hasara ya asilimia fulani pindi inaposhindikana ku-renew mkataba.


    Like Natty_Bongoman put it, "Do the leaders ever respect people's objections?"
    Will they ever...?
     
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