Sun, 22 Mar 2009
From: Reuters
By Souhail Karam
Saturday, 21 March 2009

Indonesia will allocate at least two million hectares (4.9m acres) of farm land to joint ventures with Saudi investors, to be used mainly for the cultivation of rice, a Saudi newspaper reported on Saturday.

The move would turn Indonesia into the world's top rice exporter in 2009, said Alwi Shihab, the Indonesian president's special envoy to the Middle East, according Saudi newspaper Okaz.

Some provinces in Indonesia have already signed agreements for such joint ventures, Shihab added.

Alwi said last year that Saudi BinLadin Group planned to invest at least $4.3bn in Indonesia's rice-farming industry on 500,000 hectares of land in the Papua province.

Saudi Arabia, among the world's top 10 rice importers, said in January that it had received the first batch of rice produced abroad by local investors, under a government-sponsored push for agricultural investment outside the kingdom.

Under the plan, Saudi Arabia would import a "reasonable amount" of commodities, provide support for those investments and sign bilateral agreements with the relevant governments, the government said.

Saudi Arabia imported a little over one million tonnes of rice in 2008, according to the US Department of Agriculture. (Reuters)



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