Pakistan offers land for foreign crops

Pakistan is offering one million acres – nearly 405,000 hectares -- of farmland for lease or sale to import-reliant countries seeking to secure their food supplies, Reuters reported, quoting a finance ministry official. Gulf Arab countries have been seeking farmland abroad to secure their supplies, and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are among those in talks with Pakistan.


“We are offering one million acres of land across Pakistan for investors who want to buy or lease the land for a long period of time,” said Waqar Ahmed Khan, the country’s federal minister of investment, in an interview with Reuters. “And very soon we will be signing the deals,” he added.

The ministry, which was formed in October to promote foreign investment in Pakistan, also will provide investors protection from changes in the government, Khan said. “For the first time, I can say that the whole government, including the upper and the lower house [of parliament], and the opposition are on board for this project and are supporting the idea of improving Pakistan’s economic situation.”

Khan said the ministry will hire a 100,000-member security force to be split among the country’s five provinces to help stabilise the investment environment. “This will cost us about US$2 billion to pay the salaries and train these people, who will be from local towns and provinces,” Khan said. Pakistan, which has been battling militants as it seeks to repair its economy, will seek donor funds for the project.

Asked how will farmers’ rights will be preserved — a concern raised by the United Nations Human Rights Council — Khan said the land that will be for sale or lease is unused at present. Provincial farmers will learn new techniques to help increase their produce, he added. “It’s really a win-win situation.”

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