[DEBATE] : Huge Congo land deal for South Africa's farmers.
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Wed May 6 14:39:20 BST 2009
Huge Congo land deal for South Africa's farmers.
15 April 2009
South African farmers have been offered 10 million hectares of farm land
on which to grow maize and soya beans and on which to set up poultry and
dairy farms in the Republic of Congo, South Africa’s main farmers union
The deal, which covers an area more than twice the size of Switzerland,
could be one of the biggest such land agreements on the continent agreed
by Congo’s government in an effort to improve food security, Theo de
Jager, deputy president of Agriculture South Africa (AgriSA), told Reuters.
South Africa has one of the most developed agriculture sectors on the
continent and is Africa’s top maize producer and third largest wheat grower.
“They’ve given us 10 million hectares, and that’s quite big when you
consider that in South Africa we have about six million hectares of land
that is arable,” De Jager told Reuters on the sidelines of an
agriculture conference in Durban.
De Jager said the agreement to be finalised in South Africa next month
would operate as a 99-year lease at no cost, with additional tax benefits.
“The offer that we got and we’ve agreed on paper, is a 99-year lease, of
which the value would be zero and it’s not allowed to escalate over the
99 years. So it is free use for 99 years,” he said.
The Republic of Congo’s population of around four million people is
concentrated in the south-west of the country, leaving the vast areas of
tropical jungle in the north virtually uninhabited.
De Jager said some 1 300 South African farmers are keen to farm in the
“We have two groups of farmers who are interested, one of farmers who
want to leave South Africa and relocate entirely to farm over there and
another of farmers who want to diversify their farming operations to the
Congo,” he said.
“We’ve got guys wanting to get into poultry and dairy farming and maize
and soya bean production.”
“It is a tax holiday for the first five years and … exemption from
import tax on all your agricultural inputs and equipment,” he said.
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