Thursday, October 11, 2012

Map of Foreign Owned African Farmland

In Kenya one can see an endless rows of tea plants growing.  The tea belongs to Lipton Tea Company, through its Kenya division.  Locals do not drink Lipton, they strongly dislike the taste, but Lipton Tea realizes how much money it can save by growing its crop on rented African farmlands and then exporting it to customer countries.

Lipton is not alone.  Many private, government owned, and public-private partnerships from developed and developing world realize the economic feasibility of renting African farmland.  Seth Dixon's Geography Education featured a pre-2011 map showing various countries' (representing both state and private enterprises) land holdings in Africa.

Click to Enlarge
According to the map the Saudi Arabia is the behemoth in terms of African farmlands.  Saudi Arabia, mostly desert and unable to feed its population by itself, seeks to end its dependency of buying food by renting 2.27 billion (with a "b") acres (~918.6 million hectares) of farmland in Sudan for food production.  It would be interesting to see if this farmland is located in present-day South Sudan.  If so it would explain the friendly relations Saudi Arabia quickly made with South Sudan.

The People's Republic of China comes in second for landholdings with over 11.9 million acres (~4.8 million hectares) of farmland in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.  These lands grow crops for biofuel production.  China sees Africa as the place to produce a renewable Arabia of biofuels to feed its growing economy.  China's many investments in making friends in Africa will be rewarded with renewable biofuels.

South Africa, South Korea, and then the United States round up the foreign owners with each one holding over a million acres acquired.

Interestingly, African countries are getting into the land renting business.  South Africa's farmers' union AgriSA rents 24.7 million acres (~10 million hectares) in the Republic of Congo while Djibouti is renting in Malawi.  Meanwhile Egypt rents land in Sudan as did Libya in Mali (no idea if they still do).  None of the African countries, sans Egypt in Sudan which have long ties together, rent from neighbors.  Perhaps the intense geopolitics of neighbors due to European-designed artificial borders in Africa makes this impossible.  However, Arab-influenced Djibouti has no quarrels with states in southern Africa and majority-ruled South Africa and the Republic of Congo have never had animosity against each other.  In Africa, distance makes good farmland business partners.


Anonymous said...

Why is the image so small? I can't read it at all.

Catholicgauze said...

Click the image to enlarge it.