April 10, 2012

2 million acres in East Sudan for foreigners

The ministry of Agriculture for Sudan announced that 2 million acres of land in East Sudan will be made available to Saudi Arabia for growing crops for export.

The deal that Saudi Arabia has made with Sudan is very far reaching. The Arabians will be given exclusive control of the land in that they will not pay any taxes on the produce of the land- it is a duty-free zone. Additionally, Sudanese law will not prevail in the area; we assume Saudi law will be honoured instead.

Saudi Arabia imports food from countries such as Argentina and Australia. A programme to grow wheat in Saudi Arabia was abandoned in 2008. They are not able to be self-sufficient for their own food, but they would like to secure their own sources of supply. Saudi funded banks would ensure funds for businessmen who want to operate the farms.

It is not clear where this land is located. We would expect that adequate irrigation is available to grow crops so that would locate it in the Gash Barka delta or Tokar delta regions, or perhaps downstream for the new dams being reconstructed at Setit on the Atbara River.

It is not clear what Sudan gets in return for making this land available.

It is not clear how long the timeframe is for this deal.

It is not clear what impact this project will have on the local Sudanese.

Read the article at AllAfrica.

Ted Turner is the largest landowner in the USA. He owns about 2 million acres, equivalent in size to the island of Puerto Rico. That's about 3,100 square miles.

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