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UAE eyes Kazakhstan farms

The United Arab Emirates is seeking to invest in farmland in Kazakhstan as part of a drive to secure food supplies for the country, President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said.

“The UAE is looking at implementing some agricultural projects in Kazakhstan as part of its efforts to develop stable food sources for its needs,” the official WAM news agency quoted him as saying on arrival in Kazakhstan for an official visit. Soaring food prices are a key driver of inflation in the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, where the currency is pegged to the ailing US dollar, making food imports more expensive.

The UAE, where inflation hit a 20-year peak of 11.1% in 2007, is also seeking to buy farmland in Vietnam, Cambodia, Africa and South America, Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansouri was quoted in local media as saying last week. The UAE, a federation of seven emirates that lies in the arid Gulf Arab region, relies heavily on food imports, particularly grains.

Last year, the UAE imported about 750,000 tons of rice, mainly from India, Pakistan, Thailand and Egypt. The UAE is planning to secure more Thai rice imports this year to meet domestic demand, while its capital Abu Dhabi aims to develop over 70,000 acres of farmland in Sudan as part of the strategy to diversify and secure food supplies. (Reuters)