News 313 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Mega maize project in Madagascar planned

The South Korean company Daewoo Logistics wants to use 1 million hectares in Madagascar to grown maize. The company also wants to plant palm oil on the island.

"We hope we can launch the project as soon as possible," Shin Dong-hyun, the Daewoo official in charge of the project said. South Korean business groups have expressed interest in investing once the deal is finalised, he said.

A manager at Daewoo, Hong Jong-wan, said: "We want to plant corn there to ensure our food security. Food can be a weapon in this world. We can either export the harvests to other countries or ship them back to Korea in case of a food crisis." However, infrastructure is a problem, as there is hardly any, he said.

Daewoo plans to bring in agricultural experts from South America and South Africa to work on the project. Labourers will mostly come from Madagascar, with a few from South Africa, he said. The project could end up creating more than 70,000 jobs on the island.

Meanwhile, a European diplomat in Southern Africa commented that "there will be very little direct benefits [for Madagascar]", adding that "extractive projects have very little spill-over to a broader industrialisation". "The deal Daewoo is negotiating with the Madagascan government looks positively neo-colonial and the Madagascan people stand to lose half their arable land, according to a Financial Times editorial.

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