Saudis plan to develop agriculture projects in Turkey

Hurriyet English with wires
13 Haziran 2008 - 13:06Son Güncelleme : 13 Haziran 2008 - 13:06

Saudi Arabia has unveiled its plan to develop large-scale agricultural projects in Turkey together with four other countries at a time when the Finance Minister invited Arab countries to increase their investments in the country.

The first answer to Turkey's call for Arab countries to grow crops in Turkey in order to form strategic crop reserves came from Saudi Arabia.

 

Saudi Arabia unveiled its plans to develop large-scale overseas agricultural projects to secure food supplies and revealed that they were in discussions with Turkey, Ukraine, Pakistan, Sudan, and Egypt according to a report published in the Financial Times on Friday.

 

"The Saudi government plans to set up projects of at least 100,000 hectares in several countries to grow crops such as wheat, corn, rice, soybeans and alfalfa, a feed for livestock,"Abdullah al-Obaid, the Saudi Arabian deputy agriculture minister, was quoted as saying by the FT.

 

"They (the private sector) have the technology, they have the experience and they have the money," Obaid said. "We would like to secure our strategic food grains, especially wheat, rice, corn, soybean and alfalfa," he added. "The plan to set up new agricultural projects is driven by the rise in food prices, the need to secure future food sources and the desire to offer opportunities to the Saudi private sector."

 

Obaid said officials had contacted many countries, which had reacted positively, "so we are going to select".

 

Turkey's Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan called for Arab countries to increase their investments in Turkey at the 3rd Turkish-Arab Economy Forum (TAF'08) in Istanbul on Thursday.

 

"We are going to give businesses from Arab countries the opportunity to come to Turkey and establish their own companies. Arab countries can produce the food stuffs they need here in Turkey and then ship the products back to their own countries," he said.

 

Foreign capital entering Turkey from Arab countries within the last three years is approximately $5 billion of the total amount of investment worth $52 billion. Arab countries have a total of $2 trillion in international investments world wide.

 

The move, which is also aimed at building up strategic reserves, comes as food prices have doubled over the past two years and a series of trade restrictions by exporting countries have limited oil-rich Saudi’s ability to secure supplies.

 

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest importer of barley and one of the five largest importers of rice. Saudi Arabia will also be set to become one of the world's top wheat importers when it phases out domestic production of the grain.

 

The huge rises in food prices, particularly wheat and rice, have caused a number of Arab countries to look to develop schemes in other nations. Food costs have also been a significant contributor to the double-digit inflation that is causing mounting concern in the Middle East.

 

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