Huge land deal halted

Photo credit: Africa Research Online

Mali – Land Deal Stalls

Huge land deal halted following regional political instability and security issues, leaving thousands of local families with uncertain futures

In 2008 exiled Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure signed a highly secretive lease with the then-president of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, for a 100,000 hectare area of fertile agricultural land in the Office of Niger region, in the north of the country. The deal was granted to Malibya, a subsidiary of Libyan wealth fund the Libyan African Investment Portfolio, reported Reuters.

The agreement purported that the land would be provided rent free for 50 years and include water rights “without restriction” between June and December, on the condition that the Libyan  government constructed agreed agro-industrial infrastructure such as canals and roads, and cultivated the land across the region.

The Director of the Malibya project, Abdalilah Youssef, explained in a report by think-tank the Oakland Institute that the project will ensure food security for Libya in conjunction with, not at the expense of Mali; providing higher yields with the introduction of hybrid rice varieties, employment to local populations and facilitating resettlement for those displaced.

However  following Gaddafi’s demise in Libya and increasing regional security troubles, the project stalled.  Currently the tens of thousands of families cultivating the land are facing uncertain futures and according to Malian representatives whether the concession goes ahead or not is a decision for the Libyan government to take.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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