Punjab farmers to cultivate in Ethiopia, import output to India

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by LETHALFORCE, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.dnaindia.com/india/repor...te-in-ethiopia-import-output-to-india_1507867

    A group of Punjab-based farmers today said that they are going to grow pulses and oilseeds on 5,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia and import their farm produce to India.

    "We will start cultivating 5,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia from September this year and plan to cultivate pulses, oilseeds, sugarcane and maize which are always in short supply (in India)," Confederation of Potato Seed Farmers (POSCON) secretary general Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha said here today.

    Additionally, the group wants the government to exempt their farm produce in Ethiopia from duty when imported to India in order to curtail country's dependence on import of such farm products.

    "By bringing crops like pulses, oilseeds to India, we will help the country in making it self sufficient in these crops and ensure food security," Sangha asserted.

    They also want either the Union minister of agriculture or ministry of external affairs to support them in this endeavour by patronising the farming agreements.

    Citing farming in Ethiopia as a 'workable' venture, 15members of POSCON, the representative body of the state's potato growers, have shown keen interest in cultivating land there he added.

    Sangha said, "I have already visited Ethiopia twice along with other members of our association and found huge tracts of land available in there. Farming conditions (in Ethiopia) are also similar to what we have in India."

    Also, availability of land in Ethopia at much cheaper cost than in India encouraged farmers to cultivate the land in Ethiopia.

    "Land is available for farming on lease of 25 to 45 years period. Moreover, in Ethiopia, the cost of land on lease is Rs500 per hectare, while in Punjab the cost varies between Rs25,000-30,000 per hectare," he added.

    Farmers have zeroed in on a few African areas, including Gambela and Oromia, for cultivating land.

    Moreover, the Ethiopian government has promised to support farming by Indian farmers in every manner.

    Last year, ministry of external affairs had arranged a meeting of representatives of several African countries, including Ethiopia, Uganada, Zambia, and Tanzania with Punjab farmers and these countries invited them to develop land and invest in agriculture.
     
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  3. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Nice initiative, but those farmers would rather export it to Arab countries for profit. Maybe there's a superstition that Government of India shouldn't expand FDI godowns, leading to wastage on an unholy scale.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Famine are endemic in Ethiopia.

    These farmers should first see that their crop goes to Ethiopian and then exported. That would go a long way to extend India's 'soft power'.

    I fail to see why the farmers should get exemption from duty. They are after all, going to Ethiopia for their self interest.

    We are always looking for making a quick buck pretending piety and high flaunting ideals dubiously and sneakily presented!

    There is enough of fallow land in India which could be worked upon and made into agriculturally viable.

    Raja justifying how he added to the mobile phone growth, Chavan and friend claiming Adarsh was for Kargil war heroes and their widows!
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2011
  5. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Its a great idea but then it should not be that when Indians put everything in place Ethiopian will start whining that we stole their land or that Indians are living better off in their country.India is doing same thing in Madagascar and Mozambique.
     
  6. SLASH

    SLASH Senior Member Senior Member

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    Is it just me who thinks that the prices of land is way off than the actual prices?
     
  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    This will be a benefit for Ethiopia and the Punjabi Farmers it brings in foreign exchange and investment to a place where very few would invest.
     
  8. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Didn't kazakhstan govt invite farmers from punjab to cultivate crops on free land given by govt and could keep half the produce ?
     
  9. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    ^^ Actually a couple of Central Asian countries including Kyrgyzstan. We must take this opportunity to gain more influence and expand trade relations in primary sector with fellow developing countries.
     
  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Just pause a minute.

    Think of it in this way.

    If another country farmers comes and cultivates in India to ensure their home country does not have food shortage, what would be the Indians reaction?

    Add to it that the foreign farmers are to carry away the profit reaped on Indian land.

    One has to look at a situation from all sides.

    The idea is good, but it has to be first beneficial to Ethiopia and then and then only will the venture be fruitful.
     
  11. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    older article

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...buying-land-in-Africa/articleshow/4713183.cms

    Indian farming companies buying land in Africa


    LONDON: A substantial number of Indian farming companies have bought hundreds of thousands of hectares of land in Africa, described as a "challenge to China" in the new scramble for resources in the Black continent, a media report said on Sunday.

    More than 80 Indian companies have invested about 1.5 billion pounds in buying huge plantations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique to grow grains for the domestic market.

    According to Telegraph online, Indian government has given soft loans to support the overseas ventures of the companies, which has been described as a challenge to China and Saudi Arabia in the new scramble for Africa.

    China, South Korea and a several Arab countries have led the way in creating new African mega-farms to outsource domestic food production and use cheaper labour.

    Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar rejected the media claims that the Indian government supported a new colonisation of African farmland. "Some companies are interested in buying agricultural land for sugarcane and then selling it on in the international markets. It's business, nothing more," Pawar told The Daily Telegraph.

    Documents show the details of the government support of around 500 million pounds as soft loans to encourage African countries to export food to India, the report said.

    New Delhi has also cut import duties for food produced in Ethiopia. The largest company which invested in Ethiopia is Karuturi Global, one of the world's largest producers of cut roses. It has signed deals for 350,000 hectares to create the world's largest agricultural land-bank.

    The Bangalore-based company, which has bought farm land in Kenya, is growing sugar cane, palm oil, rice and vegetables there, it said.

    Vice President of India's Yes Bank Raju Poosapati, who advises investors in Africa, said a government ban on non-Basmati rice exports had driven Indian companies to grow it in Africa for overseas market.

    Indians are now eating more meat and that has led many companies to grow maize animal feed in Africa as there are no government incentives for Indian farmers to grow it at home.

    The report said critics have described the development as modern "piracy" and "land grabbing" from countries that have in the past been blighted by famine and severe food shortages. South Korea has bought under 700,000 hectares in Sudan, while Saudi Arabia has signed a deal for 500,000 hectares in Tanzania.
     
  12. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.livemint.com/2010/10/31213054/US-India-may-jointly-tap-Afri.html

    US, India may jointly tap Africa agriculture


    Nairobi/New Delhi: India and the US may team up to tap farm opportunities in Africa that may also translate into the US funding Indian farm projects in the continent.

    The proposal is a spin-off from the India-US Agriculture Dialogue and an announcement is likely during the US President Barack Obama’s visit starting 6 November.

    “As part of the India-US dialogue on agriculture, there has been some focus on Africa,” said a senior Indian government official who didn’t want to be identified. “We will talk to them. It will be our projects and their funding, and will result in reduced cost of delivery. The African countries will be our equal partners.”

    A senior commerce ministry official confirmed that US under-secretary of agriculture for farm and foreign agricultural services James W. Miller is currently in New Delhi to chalk out an agenda for cooperation in agriculture, ahead of Obama’s visit. Miller met commerce secretary Rahul Khullar and agriculture secretary P.K. Basu on Friday.

    Questions emailed to the US embassy in New Delhi and to the spokesperson at India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) remained unanswered at the time of filing this story.

    A statement posted on the website of the Indian embassy in Washington read, “Under the agriculture dialogue, the two governments have set up three working groups for: strategic cooperation in agriculture and food security, food processing, agriculture extension, farm-to-market linkages, and weather and crop forecasting respectively.”

    The first meeting under the initiative was held on 13 and 14 September in New Delhi.

    Mint had reported on 19 October about state-owned trading firm MMTC Ltd, the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (Iffco) and the conglomerate Bharti Enterprises planning to join a growing number of Indian entities engaged in commercial farming in Africa.

    India has long-standing ties with many African nations, forged by its support for their independence movements. India and China, the world’s fastest growing major economies, are also racing to acquire stakes in hydrocarbon blocks in Africa and elsewhere to meet domestic energy demand.

    Krishna V. Rajan, former secretary (east) in the ministry of external affairs, says agriculture is a “very important area” given India’s growing engagement with Africa.

    “If Africa’s potential is to be realized, it has to be a major international effort. This is a relevant area and there is no politics attached to it. Everything should not be seen only through China’s prism. India has its own competitive advantage that it brings to the table as China has its own,” he said.

    Rivalry between India and China for control of natural resources and energy assets beyond their borders is being played out in African countries as the Asian giants seek to gain an extra edge in their quest for energy resources.

    “India, of course, has had tremendous success in helping lift some of its people out of poverty through agricultural innovation,” said Ben Rhodes, US deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, according to a White House press statement issued on Wednesday.

    “And our partnership with them has been strong in that respect. And this (Obama visit) is an opportunity to talk about that partnership, and also its potential to service our broader food security initiatives in places like Africa,” Rhodes said.

    Indian farm interest in Africa are focusing on pulses and edible oil as India imports around 8 million tonnes (mt) of edible oil worth Rs26,000 crore every year and 3.5 mt of pulses worth Rs14,175 crore.
     
  13. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://rajmelville.posterous.com/punjabs-farmers-turn-to-africa-to-lease-land


    Punjab’s farmers turn to Africa to lease land and farm

    Jagjit Singh Hara’s 50-acre farm in Kanganwal village in Jalandhar leaves him with little time for anything else. Still, he has taken time off to make a trip to the Pasteur Institute in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, to get himself inoculated against yellow fever before he sets out to scout for land in Africa.

    As land holdings in the state shrink and the soil becomes less fertile, Punjab’s farmers are already looking for greener pastures. And this time, it’s Africa, where governments, especially in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Sudan and Namibia, are looking for the right expertise, technology and farming skills.

    Hara, a farmer in Jalandhar who has contacts in the agriculture ministry, says he has been repeatedly getting offers from Congo, Namibia and Nigeria to take land on lease and start cultivation.

    “Our state government and armchair experts at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) have failed us. Land holding in the state has shrunk, water levels have depleted and fertility of soil has gone down. The farmers of Punjab will have to fend for themselves. If it means going out of the country and starting cultivation elsewhere, they will,” says Hara.

    And so he is going—to Africa. What started as a trickle a few years ago is now gaining momentum. Harcharan Bajwa was among the early travellers. He started a floriculture farm in Ghana five years ago. “In Patiala, I had twenty acres of land where I alternated between wheat and rice. Today I have 250 acres of land on lease for 50 years. I am able to export my produce to Holland. People think Africa is torn apart by violence but that’s not true of all countries. It is a bit like India where some states see violence while others are completely peaceful,” he says.

    Jagtar Sodhi is another farmer who took land on lease in Uganda seven years ago. Today, he’s completely at home in his new surroundings. “It is not as if you are coming to an alien land. Indians have been coming to Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia and Sudan as teachers and other skilled workers. More recently, big firms from Gujarat and Karnataka have invested in agriculture. So if a farmer comes from India, he will see a lot of familiar faces and things here,” says Sodhi.

    And it’s not just individual farmers who are flocking to Africa. Prominent agro groups from Punjab, including the Ponty Chadha group and Rana Sugars, too are exploring possibilities of investing in agriculture in Africa. In fact, the bulk of the dairy industry in Kampala (Uganda) is run by farmers who migrated from Punjab.

    In the last few months, the process seems to be speeding up with more and more farmers checking out Africa. Raghubir Singh Sangha, a farmer from Jalandhar, is one of them. Sangha recently returned from a seven-day trip to Ethiopia. The trip was fruitful. Convinced that farming in Africa is a feasible and profitable venture, Sangha is all set to return to Ethiopia next month to negotiate a deal to buy land on a 50-year lease.

    The news coming out of Africa is often grim—of civil war, disease and hunger. But Sangha is not disturbed by them. “When farmers from Punjab went to the Terai region of Uttarakhand in the fifties and later in the eighties, they were not deterred by the hostile land or by leopards, bears and pythons. So, they are not going to be afraid in Africa either.”

    Jaswinder Singh, another farmer from Jalandhar, is also just back from a trip to Ethiopia. Convinced that the opportunity to invest in Africa is ripe, he says, “Vast tracts of arable land are lying vacant. There is no technology. In my entire trip of seven days, I saw two tractors and that too of the sort that we stopped using in India some 30 years ago. The land is fertile, the climate is suitable and water is abundant. Also, both land and labour are cheap.”

    Farmers from Punjab setting up farms abroad and making it big is not a new phenomenon. In Argentina, there is Simar Pal Singh who is known as the Peanut Prince and in the US, there are the Tut brothers who own vast plantations. But what’s new this time around are the sheer numbers. The interest farmers are expressing in Africa is unmatched.

    THE sudden spurt in interest in Africa can be traced to an Africa summit held in Patiala four months ago. Minister of State for External Affairs, Preneet Kaur, who is an MP from Patiala, brought along ambassadors and high commissioners to India of seven African nations and together they exhorted farmers in Punjab to explore opportunities in Africa. They pointed out the advantages of farming in Punjab—and that Africa was more than just a continent torn apart by war. And last month, Ethiopian Ambassador to India, Genet Zewdie, came on a four-day visit to Jalandhar, met local farmers and invited them to take land on lease in Ethiopia.

    Responding to these overtures, Punjab’s farmers, already grappling with small land holdings (70 per cent of fields in Punjab are less than four acres in size) and poor soil quality (ground water has plunged to alarming levels), smelt a big opportunity in a vast land.

    The offer from Africa basically means a farmer can take a large tract of land on lease for 50 years, and in some cases even up to 99 years. With land prices in Africa much lower than those in Punjab, farmers can think of doing agriculture on a scale that’s unimaginable in the state.

    “The land lease rate in Punjab’s Doaba region is a minimum of Rs 40,000 per acre. In most African nations, land lease rate in terms of Indian currency comes to Rs 700 per acre. This means that for every one acre in Punjab, we can own 60 acres in Africa. With a per capita land holding of 1.5 acres in Punjab, agriculture is ceasing to be a sustainable activity. During my trip to Africa recently, I saw our farmers owning tracts as large as 2.5 lakh hectares,” says Jaswinder Singh.

    Then there are other advantages—such as easy export to the lucrative European market. To protect their agricultural produce, several European nations have imposed stifling regulations on the import of Indian horticulture produce. For instance, in April, a consignment of grapes from India to Europe was stuck and delayed on a small food security issue. But when it comes to produce coming from the virgin lands of Africa, these checks are relaxed considerably. Also, the proximity of some of these nations to the Mediterranean Sea ensures that they have quick access to Europe.

    Gokul Patnaik, a former IAS officer and now a well known agri-consultant based in Delhi, says, “Agriculture in Africa is not developed and the continent is facing acute food shortage. Therefore, you see a lot of African governments actively seeking the expertise of Punjab’s farmers. It is important that the Indian government offers its support—which, unfortunately, had been lacking till recently, unlike China which is backing its African investments to the hilt.”

    The government, especially the Ministry of External Affairs, is now assuring farmers of more help. Experts attribute it partly to the rising exchanges between India and Africa. Trade between the two countries has gone up from $5 billion in 2002 to about $40 billion in 2009. “During the Green Revolution, our farmers made India self-sufficient in food. There is no reason why they can’t replicate their success in Africa now. I can assure that MEA will play a facilitating role,” says minister Kaur.

    Gunbir Singh, head of the Punjab chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), says, “Let’s accept the fact that people from Punjab have always been going abroad. Going to Africa and cultivating land is far superior and remunerative than illegally immigrating to Europe and working as household helps or cabbies. At CII, we feel that if fully utilised, the agriculture opportunity can yield far greater returns than the remittances from Punjabi expatriates in the Middle East.”

    But there is a darker side to the African dream too. The threat of diseases and security fears are never far away. Satbir Nijjer, a pioneer of crop diversification in Punjab, says, “Yes, but then, no pain, no gain. It is as simple as that. The opportunity in Africa exists because of these disadvantages. If everything was hunky dory, Europeans would have captured these advantages much earlier.”

    He says it’s important that people think beyond such worries. “The mistake that we committed in Punjab should not be repeated there. We succeeded in increasing the yields but failed to set up the relevant food processing industry or infrastructure, such as cold storage. This means that agriculture in Punjab is not as remunerative as it used to be.”

    Though Africa offers endless opportunities, critics talk of how the dream to own land was once grounded in Burkina Faso, a country in west Africa. In 1999, many farmers from Punjab migrated to Burkina Faso as part of an Indian government programme. But in the absence of agriculture infrastructure and irrigation facilities, the programme had limited success and wound up almost three years after it began. Neither the Indian government nor the African government could convince Indian farmers to take land on a long-term lease.

    But, counters Patnaik, that should not stop farmers from going to Africa. “You can’t use one example to say that everything will go wrong. Burkina Faso may not have worked but Uganda and Kenya will.”

    Gunbir says going to Africa is in no way more dangerous than illegally immigrating to Europe via Cyprus “We can blow hot and cold over over the issue, while Chinese are exploring the opportunity. They are investing heavily in mining in Africa.”
     
  14. amitkriit

    amitkriit Senior Member Senior Member

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    Why only the farmers from Punjab? Why don't these companies who are purchasing land lease bring people from other states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal?
     

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