Jun 16 2010

Will Indians have “green thumb” in African “bush?”

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 10:39 AM

The rush by international capitalists to gain rights to farm land in Africa continues. Now Indian investors are drawining attention for theit interest in growing stuff. Ethiopia has actually moved most aggressively on the ground to strike land deals with foreign agro-business, chiefly because its dictatorial government takes a heavy-handed approach to package large plots of land for lease or sale to outsiders. Given the challenges of Ethiopia’s terrain and climate (and the high cost and low levels of irrigation), serious doubts exist over whether foreign agro-investors can earn a profit on anything other than greenhouse-dominated horticulture. Rather than becoming a new way of pillaging African resources, foreign-owned farms in Ethiopia may merely become “money pits,” the folly of arrogant Chinese and Petro-Arab backers. But the outlook is rosier perhaps in West Africa, making the new report of investments in Ghana by Indian capitalists intriguing. Ghana has much idle land, and especially good prospects for large-scale growing in the under-used grasslands north and south of the provincial northern capital of Tamele. When I visited Ghana last fall, I learned of Brazilian efforts to establish corporate plantations in the eastern part of the country,where irrigated water could be delivered from the Volta River. Now the entry of investors from India reinforces the idea that Ghana my become an African breadbasket. The drama of how, when and why Africa can become a global food exporter is one of the most fascinating and unexpected narratives in rural development the world over.

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