Africa: Angola land deal announced; Madagascar land deal on hold (Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph)

| January 19, 2009

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In November 2008, reports that a South Korean corporation was in negotiations to lease half of Madagascar’s arable land raised concerns about a new era of colonialism in Africa. Criticism came from many sides, including Jacques Diouf, Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Malagasy people.

South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics planned to lease 1.3 million hectares of Malagasy land to grow corn and oil palm. Crops were to be shipped back to South Korea.

Shin Dong-hyun is general manager of planning and finance for Daewoo. He says negotiations with the Malagasy government ground to a halt after the Malagasy people responded negatively to media reports of the deal.

But efforts by rich corporations and governments to secure African farmland continue. The pan-African conglomerate Lonrho recently announced that it will lease 25,000 hectares of Angolan rice paddies. The company is also negotiating land deals in Mali and Malawi.

David Lenigas is the executive chairman of Lonrho. He said the Angolan land deal will focus on domestic production for domestic markets. He hopes that this approach will quell concerns of neo-colonialism.

However, Mr. Lenigas acknowledged that the Angolan and Malian land deals would force small-scale farmers off their land. He said that the company would seek to keep farmer relocations “to a minimum.”

-To read the FRW story on Kenya’s plans to lease land to Qatar, visit: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/01/12/kenya-qatar-to-grow-food-on-kenyan-soil-daily-nation-gulf-times/
-For the FRW story on Ethiopia’s plans to lease land to Saudi Arabia, go to: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/12/22/1-ethiopia-hundreds-of-thousands-of-hectares-of-land-available-for-foreign-investment-prime-minister-says-inter-press-service-arab-news-the-guardian-reuters-new-scientist/