Egypt Looks To Lease Land For Agro-Business In 2010

Egypt plans to lease farmland for agro-business projects during 2010 but is waiting for the Agriculture Ministry to allocate suitable plots, the trade minister said Feb. 1.

The head of Egypt’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) had told Reuters in April last year that Egypt would start up its agro-industrial zones project in June 2009.

“The project is totally ready but what we have been waiting for is the allocation of land. We need agricultural land,” Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid told reporters.

The IDA had said Egypt could raise as much as 66 billion Egyptian pounds ($12 billion) by 2020 through the scheme.

The Agriculture Ministry has notified the Trade Ministry that some plots in the Sinai peninsula, southern Egypt and the Western Desert could be allocated for the project, Rachid said.

“As soon as this land is available we will move,” he said.

The project envisages leasing plots of farmland with suitable irrigation facilities and ample space for a manufacturing site to Egyptian and foreign investors.

The ministry has compiled a list of potential projects ranging from sugar factories to tomato paste manufacturing.

“The land will be long-lease, anywhere between 40 and 99 years,” Rachid said.

The ministry prefers not to lease the land through auctions, to avoid raising land prices, but will look at offers presented by investors for various plots and then decide.

“If we end up having more than one offer for the land we will decide whether it will be an auction or whether it will be based on the priority of the project,” Rachid said.

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