“The proposed project will not go ahead and the land will remain state property,” said Jacquelin Dugasse, the development minister. “The strong feeling was that we should not stop agricultural development when food security is an issue.” The 20-hectare resort was to have been built by an unnamed investor.
The use and ownership of arable land has become a heated issue in Africa since the global food shortage and resultant price increases began in 2007. Several Persian Gulf and Asian states have sought to increase their own food security by leasing land to grow crops in countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya, which all rely on outside help to feed their citizens.
In the most controversial deal, the South Korean conglomerate Daewoo announced last November that it would lease 1.3 million hectares of land in Madagascar to grow palm oil and corn. The agreement caused widespread anger in the island nation and was rescinded two weeks ago by the country’s new leader, Andry Rajoelina.
The Seychelles is heavily dependent on imported food and has been hit badly by the global financial crisis. Per capita, it is the world’s most indebted country, with 85,000 people and accumulated external debt of US$800 million. The International Monetary Fund agreed to a $26 million rescue package for the Seychelles last November, tied to economic reforms.
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