Almarai buys Argentina farm company
Saudi Arabia's Almarai Company, the Gulf's biggest dairy firm by market value, has acquired Fondomonte, which owns and operates farms in Argentina, to secure feed for its dairy herd and poultry businesses. 'The transaction value is SR312 million ($83 million) and is financed from a combination of operational cash flows and Islamic banking facilities,' Almarai said in a bourse statement. Fondomonte has three farms totaling 12,306 hectares, which focus on the production of corn and soybeans, the statement said. In June Almarai said it plans to invest 4 billion riyals in the poultry sector. Earlier this month Almarai said it plans to increase its capital by 73.9% to 4 billion riyals from 2.3 billion through the distribution of one bonus share for each 1.739 shares.
Lebanon: Lower yields
Lebanon’s government is struggling to strengthen the country’s agriculture sector, with a lack of investment by successive administrations, a preference by many Lebanese for imports and political uncertainty across the region all contributing to a general production decline. Agriculture’s economic contribution has been falling for many years, with services, construction and even manufacturing all eclipsing farming’s share of GDP. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), agriculture’s contribution to GDP has slipped in the past 15 years from just under 7% to less than 5%. In part, the IMF said the retreat is due to infrastructure shortcomings, relatively high costs and an uncertain political environment. Though its GDP contribution is slowly dwindling, the number of people employed in the sector remains high, with estimates putting the rate at around 25-30% of the total Lebanese workforce. Due to the reduced cash flow into the agriculture community, there has been an increase in rural poverty, aggravated by a lack of investment in infrastructure and services in some regions. Yet there is hope for the sector, with the Ministry of Agriculture having successfully argued for an increase in its budget allocation for 2012. Under the government’s draft budget, the ministry will have its funding increased in the coming year to $54.4 million. While this sum is double the ministry’s 2011 allocation, it is still only a fraction of the almost $14 billion the government plans to disburse next year. However, there are also no guarantees the additional funds will be released on schedule. Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi’s draft has come under fire from many quarters, with criticism that the slowing economy cannot sustain the 6.24% increase in spending. There has also been opposition over plans to raise the value-added tax and impose higher duties on income from interest and real estate transactions. Another concern for Lebanese farmers are increasingly strident calls for stiffer sanctions against neighboring Syria. Not only is Syria an export market for Lebanese agricultural products, particularly processed foods, but it is also the only country sharing an open land border with Lebanon. As such, if the Arab League or the broader international community calls on Beirut to impose sanctions against Damascus, Lebanon’s farmers would be directly affected.
Source: Oxford Business Group
Brazil company to expand ME chicken exports
BrazArtis Assessoria em Comercio Exterior, an import-export company based in Brazil, has announced a campaign to expand chicken exports to the Middle East. The endeavor is aligned with the growing Brazilian poultry exportation to the region, a statement from the company said. The total Brazilian poultry production reached 13 million tons in 2011, almost 6.9 percent increase from 2010. At the same time, the exportation is expected to total 3.937 million tons, over 30% of the total production, according to Brazilian Poultry Union (UBABEF). “The Middle East region is a focal exportation and trading hub for Brazil. We are confident in the prospects for the upcoming year and will continue to support our business partners by supplying top quality halal and non-halal chicken products at competitive prices,” a spokesperson for BrazArtis Assessoria em Comercio Exterior said.
Source: TradeArabia News Service
Saudi seeks more Ukrainian barley
Saudi Arabia may increase imports of Ukrainian barley to 5-7 million tons next season according to an agreement between the two countries, Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted Ukraine's Agriculture Minister as saying. Interfax quoted Mykola Prysyazhnyuk as saying Saudi Arabia imported up to 4 million tons of Ukrainian barley last season. He said state-run companies could make the future shipments. Ukraine's agriculture ministry said the former Soviet republic would supply grain, including milling wheat, to Saudi Arabia under an agreement signed in November. Saudi Arabia is already a major consumer of Ukrainian feed barley and has also imported Ukrainian wheat and maize.