Hungry China to Lease some Ukraine Farmland as Big as Belgium
|December 30, 2013||Posted by Staff under Land Disputes|
This 2013 excerpt of GB’s Telegraph, Spt 24, is by Alex Spillius.
Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp (XPCC), a quasi-military organisation also known as Bingtuan, said that it had signed a £1.7 billion agreement in June with KSG Agro, Ukraine’s leading agricultural company. KSG Agro however denied reports that it had sold Ukraine farmland to the Chinese, saying it had only reached agreement for the Chinese to modernise 3,000 hectares and “may in the future gradually expand to cover more areas”.
Under the 50-year plan, China would eventually control three million hectares, an area equivalent to Belgium or Massachusetts, which represents nine per cent of Ukraine’s arable land. Initially 100,000 hectares would be leased.
Any sort of “land-grab” deal can be highly sensitive politically. Madagascar was forced to scrap a plan to lease 1.2 million hectares to South Korea in 2009 after angry protests against “neo-colonialism”. The Philippines has also blocked a China investment deal.
With its current population of 1.36 billion predicted by the UN to rise to 1.4 billion by 2050, China is among the leading renter of overseas farmland in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia, though the XPCC deal would make Ukraine China’s largest overseas farming centre.
China consumes about one-fifth of the world’s food supplies, but is home to just nine per cent of the world’s farmland, thanks in part to rapid industrialisation.
Apart from China, India, South Korea, the Gulf states, and western European corporations began taking tracts of land, especially in Africa, after global food prices spiked in 2008.
XPCC however is making the first such major foray into continental Europe. It has a country that has the largest land area in the continent and was known as the “bread basket as the Soviet Union” but which has progressed slowly since the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Ed. Notes: It matters little who owns the land; it matters a lot who gets the rent. As long as Ukraine’s populace get a fair return, the deal makes sense, sending surplus to where there is need. And paying rent for food and land is far more just than the invasions almost all societies have done in the past.