Al-Dahra to invest $400m in Serbian agriculture
Thursday 28 March 2013
Last Update 28 March 2013 9:55 pm
BELGRADE: Abu Dhabi-based firm Al-Dahra agreed to invest $ 400 million to buy eight Serbian farm companies and develop them to grow and process food and fodder for export, in the biggest investment in Serbian agriculture for decades.
The agreement between Belgrade and Al-Dahra came a day after the UAE Development Fund approved a separate $400 million loan for Serbian agriculture, Serbia’s Finance Ministry said.
“With $ 400 million from Abu Dhabi’s Development Fund … and $ 400 million from Al-Dahra, we have secured a total of $ 800 million for agriculture,” Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic, Dinkic, on a visit to Abu Dhabi, was quoted as saying by the ministry.
Serbia is looking to potential investors such as Russia, China and the UAE, while its traditional trading partners in the euro zone struggle with a debt crisis.
Meanwhile, countries in the Gulf, one of the world’s biggest food importing regions, have stepped up efforts to buy and lease farmland in developing nations to secure food supplies since 2007-2008, when food prices rose to record levels.
Under the agreement, Al-Dahra will use a third of its investment to purchase eight bankrupt agricultural firms, mainly in Serbia’s fertile north.
The remainder will be invested in irrigation and the development of at least five fodder plants, Dinkic said.
“This is the biggest investment (in Serbian agriculture) in decades,” he said. “Al-Dahra will be a producer but also a buyer of Serbian agriculture products.”
Agriculture accounted for 20 percent of Serbia’s exports in 2012, but farms lack modern irrigation and suffer from floods and droughts. The government plans to increase agriculture subsidies this year by 25 percent from 2012 to reach 3.7 percent of the budget.
Serbia is targeting economic growth of 2 percent this year after a contraction of about 1.9 percent in 2012.
On Wednesday, Dinkic said Abu Dhabi’s Etihad airline could also become a strategic partner of Belgrade’s JAT Airways. Source Arab News