According to Nograles the vision of the political leaders of Mindanao is that if the 26,000 hectares of contiguous agricultural land can be developed in the joint venture partnership with the Saudi chamber of commerce, a lease agreement could gurantee 50 years of food security for the Kingdom.
While I am all for infrastructure projects, the way these large-scale agriculture projects are being conceived leaves a lot to be desired. One, they are shrouded in secrecy. Two, this being Kenya, it is not clear who will benefit most.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are worldwide leaders in buying farmland in third-party countries, followed by China and Japan, says the World Bank.
Saudi Arabia, one of the world's biggest rice importers, has received the first batch of rice to be produced abroad by local investors, state news agency SPA reported on Monday.
Speaker Nograles pushed for Saudi-Philippines partnership to develop some 26,000 ha of government property in Central Mindanao into a major agri-industrial production and processing complex.
Countries struggling to secure credit have resorted to barter and secretive government-to-government deals to buy food, with some contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.I
Speaker Prosopero Nograles expressed optimism that the Philippines will be able to provide the food requirements of the Kingdom through possible Saudi investments in Mindanao.
King Abdullah received today Saudi Arabia's Minister of Commerce and Industry accompanied by two Saudi businessmen Mohammad Hussein Al-Amoudi and Abdullah Hassan Al-Masri on the occasion of the arrival of the earliest produce of their rice to the Kingdom.
Gulf governments, entrepreneurs and sovereign wealth funds have spent vast sums buying or leasing farmland across Asia and Africa to try to secure cheaper imports and keep supermarket prices low. But the World Bank and UN want them to put more money into development aid.
"The only protection against international land-grabbing that we can see for the Philippines is the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, a bill written by us peasants to protect our right to land and to achieve food security for our country"
The reported land deal between Kenya and Qatar is not unique. The Philippines Department of Agrarian Reform said in 2007 it was looking at large tracts of land for agribusiness development under a MoU signed with China. The memo calls for the development of land to grow hybrid corn, rice and sorghum.
Walden Bello said that many of the deals were struck in dysfunctional and corruption-ridden nations, and rejected claims the land being signed away is of poor quality, and that the projects will bring jobs and improve infrastructure. “What we’re talking about is private parties using state contracts to enrich themselves,” he said. “It’s an intersection of corrupt governments and land-hungry nations.”