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Grab the land
According to reports, Arab investors are buying agricultural land in Israel.
August 17, 2009 9:32 by Aarti Nagraj
Wealthy individuals from the Gulf countries have recently purchased hundreds of acres of agricultural land in the occupied region of Galilee, reported Israel Radio this week. Farmers in Galilee reportedly tried to prevent the sale, but failed to do so as they did not have sufficient funds to buy the land from its owners. The Israel Lands Administration told the radio station that it could not interfere with the deal because the lands are privately-owned.
While the move has come under heavy criticism from political leaders in Israel, if true, it is the latest example of the increasing importance being given to agricultural land by people in the Arab world.
In recent years, in a bid to reduce food imports, several Gulf countries have been investing heavily in farmland in developing countries such as Pakistan, the Philippines and Ethiopia. Last year, Gulf States imported 80 percent of their food at a cost of $20 billion.
According to reports, Cambodia has a $546 million loan from Kuwait for agricultural projects, a $200 million venture with Qatar and has leased 1.6 million hectares of land to Saudi Arabia.
The Philippines is in talks with Qatar to lease around 100,000 hectares of agricultural land, and has a $500 million joint agri-business venture with Kuwait. Saudi also recently announced that it would allocate around $240 million to establish fruit plantations and support aquaculture and halal food processing projects in the Philippines. The UAE has 3,000 hectares in the country for agriculture projects.
Vietnam announced plans to establish a $1 billion investment fund with Qatar last year primarily for investment in food production for export.
But it’s not just for food, Gulf countries are also looking at the financially lucrative side of the agricultural industry.
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