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Hussam Hussein
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Hi and thanks for visiting my profile :) My name is Hussam, I'm a blogger-researcher-journalist, member of the European Youth Press’ Middle East and North Africa Committee (MENAC). I studied in Italy (Trieste/Gorizia), England (SOAS, London), and Poland (College of Europe). Academically, my background is mainly in Diplomacy and International Relations, with a focus on Environment. My interests are climate change, water, development and international cooperation.


Food insecurity? Let’s buy some land in Africa!

Published 17th April 2010 - 10 comments - 4217 views -

The scarce water resources and the little arable land, as well as the growing population, do not allow the Gulf Countries to guarantee their internal food security. In addition, rely economically only on oil and energetic income, it’s not a secure and durable sector. these are the main reasons for that these arid and desert countries are pushed to invest billions of dollars in buying arable land in Africa, ensuring therefore long-term food security. In this sense the acquisition abroad of land could sound as a good policy, from the Gulf point of view. By doing it, these countries will also manage to cut the cost to the consumers through bypassing world markets.

This solution appeared mainly as a consequence of the food crisis in 2007/2008 that caused riots from Cairo to Senegal. This Gulf “economic planning” could be seen on the one hand as an opportunity for the African countries because the Gulf will  bring modern technology to failing agricultural regions, as well as create job opportunities in their land. On the other hand, it could be seen as a 'neo-colonial' food grab.

For instance, Qatar, which has only 1% of arable land, bought 40.000 hectares of land from Kenya in order to grow food. This land is in the Tana river, an area very fertile where the water resources are there in abundance. At the same time, it has to be considered that a third of the local population is facing a food shortage, and the decision of the President Kibaki to sell the land to Qatar for then appeal for international food relief... in your opinion, does this decision make sense?

Kuwait, an other Gulf country, decided to focus more on the Asian countries than on the African ones, already affected by deep poverty. China has signed a deal with Mozambique: land to Chinese people and in return military aid from Beijing. Also a British company has made a deal with Malawi in order to grab arable agricultural land.

Does it help development and these African countries or not? Could it be a solution for the food security of the Gulf countries?

Looking forward to hear your opinions.

Category: Agriculture | Tags:


  • dan on 17th April 2010:

    And so the answer is lets spend some money! Meaning you have something we need, you also need it, and will need it in the future, but we need it more than you now, so may I buy it from you?

    Perhaps we really need to stop using numbers on computers AKA money, and find ways to stop consuming!

    I really hope this volcano shows just how fragile the money system is!

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 17th April 2010:

    Like in anything, there are always pros and cons. My take? It can in the surface seem like it would help development in Africa but in the long-term I’m not sure about the consequences. Mining comes to mind—resources are used and there are benefits but in the long-term there are deeper issues that arise from such development. There’s ancestral domain and rights of indigenous people, etc.

  • Hemant Jain on 17th April 2010:

    Dear Hussam, this is a really important post. land grabbing in Africa. Attempts of people like Bill Gates and cos like Monsanto makes one wonder what terrible vision we are conjuring for a future. I shall collect my thoughts and sources on this and write to you.

  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 17th April 2010:

    I think Qatar’s got great idea of using others’lands…

    Kenya can be justified if it really has land in surplus and it is obviously unable to do anything with it. However, selling is very dubious. Especially if it’s a rich land - I don’t think any government has the right to do that. Perhaps merely letting others rent it? Yes, renting sounds more like it. Also, how did Kenya come to possess this land, was it privatized?

  • Hussam Hussein on 21st April 2010:

    @ Hemant: yes, I also think that it is indeed a very important issue, that’s why I decided to share it with all the other bloggers. I’m looking forward to read your posts or further comments about it smile

    for all: Yeah, I also think that there are some por and contro. Actually in some cases the land has not been sold, but “only” landed for 99 years or similar…
    Of course, could be a benefit for both the countries, but it could pone some interesting questions.

  • wisconsin land on 26th April 2010:

    I really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check on the new stuff you post! land in Wisconsin

  • Radka Lankašová on 23rd May 2010:

    Hi Hussam, your question is a good one. Gulf countries need land to feed their people, they are active and seeking solutions. One of the oprions is to buy/rent it from Asian/African countries who can provide it. It sounds fine. But - how will be the land cared for? Natural fertilizers or chemical ones? Who will work there? Locals? Will they be paid fairly? Will rich Gulf countries do something extra for local African/Asian communities (build a school for example). And how will be crops transported from Africa to Gulf? By plane? Carbon footprint? So many more questions to ask….

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 20th July 2010:

    very important issue and you posted it on my birthday… I didn’t mention that time. there is also the role of corporative foundation that enter developing countries to built a trust and be present there.

  • Hussam Hussein on 06th August 2010:

    @Wisconsin land: thanks for your comment… this is the last month of the blogging competition, I hope you enjoed my posts and the posts of my fellow bloggers so far smile

    @radka: you raised many good point. I guess that bilateral negotiations are gonna settle these issues, but probably the type of fertilize and of transportation of the products is not gonna be taken seriously into consideration, while maybe the labour force would be of more interest for the parties. unfortunately, I think that often commercial issues prevail on environmental concerns…

  • Hussam Hussein on 06th August 2010:

    @Iwona: I don’t know much about the corporative foundations.. concerning your b’day, i’ll try to remember that for the next year wink

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