By Raphael Minder in
November 20 2008
Some of the deals would be finalised "in coming months", said Suos Yara, under-secretary of state responsible for economic co-operation.
The revelation comes as impoverished countries rich in fertile land and water such as
Kuwait and Qatar were "very strongly interested" in securing more farming land, he said, with South Korea and the Philippines, which suffered from rice shortages this year, among potential Asian investors.
"Food prices have recently fallen but that really makes little difference because the food supply issue will be there for the long term," he said. "With this financial crisis, we need to seize this opportunity to develop our farming and switch [foreign] investment from construction to agriculture."
This week, Daewoo Logistics of
Suos Yara would not detail the terms of the potential deals but said leases would run between 70 and 90 years. He did not say how much investors will pay for the leases, with the $3bn more likely in infrastructure investments than rent.
Apart from boosting farming acreage, Suos Yara said the deals would make an equally significant contribution in terms of infrastructure and technology upgrades in a country that has emerged from decades of war and a 1970s genocide.
The country has suffered a food crisis, with the Asian Development Bank providing $35m in emergency food assistance last month. However, Suos Yara said conditions had returned to normal. "It was a distribution problem and not a food shortage problem," he said.
While most of the potential investors were seeking to bolster their food reserves,