It is good to know that a number of foreign corporates and individuals are showing interest in farming in Africa. Africa has been dependent on other countries for food for several decades. Land in Africa is not exploited much. If, for 2 to 3 decades, land is leased to foreign corporates/individuals, Africa can become self-sufficient or even surplus in food grains. But in some quarters, serious concern is shown on African land being used by foreigners to “sever” Africans from their cultural and socio-economic attachments to past, present and future. In this connection, it may be mentioned that this takes place not only by land alienation but also by:
- Globalization of the economy and
- Religious conversions.
Both of these are widely prevalent on the continent.
By including suitable safeguards in the land deals, such as those below, Africa can gain from increased land productivity.
- Defining a maximum number of years for which the land could be leased with options for lease extentions
- Requiring land to be returned to its original owner after the lease with all agricultural implements/equipment free of cost
- Limiting the number of foreign workers on the land
- Requiring foreigners to first satisfy domestic needs of their produce and then exporting the surplus
- Limiting the number of land deals per year
- Specifying the crops to be cultivated, land development to be undertaken and the irrigation facilities to be created
- Other conditions similar to “Build, Operate and Transfer” mode in infrastructure projects
With prudent policies, land deals would be a great boon to Africa.