Nelly Bassily | January 12, 2009
The fertile lands of Kenya’s Tana River delta are the focus of another controversial land deal. Last year, the Kenyan government supported plans to establish a 20,000-hectare sugar plantation on the delta. Now there are reports that the government of Qatar will lease 40,000 hectares of delta land to grow fruit and vegetables.
Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki visited Qatar in November of 2008. The two countries reportedly struck a deal whereby Qatar would obtain access to land in exchange for funds to build a new port on Lamu Island, off the Kenyan coast.
These reports come at a time when Kenya faces food shortages, with the price of maize flour doubling over the last year. Just weeks ago, the government placed newspaper ads inviting proposals for the import of one million bags of yellow maize.
Philip Kirio is president of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation Union. He questioned why a foreign government should be allowed to grow food in Kenya when the country cannot feed its own people.
The reported deal between Kenya and Qatar is the latest is a string of land deals between developing countries and rich corporations or governments that is raising international concern.
-See the FRW story on the proposed sugarcane project in Tana Delta: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/07/14/1-kenya-herders-oppose-controversial-sugarcane-project-the-nation-various-other-sources/
-See the FRW story on Ethiopia’s plans to lease land to Saudi Arabia: