Saturday, December 29, 2012

Africa Trek I...  

As I think I have mentioned before, I'm schlepping off to Africa with a buddy in February to have one last great adventure before my kids put me in the home. Also to tell what is looking like a fantastic story.
Wallie Hardie's family has been farming successfully in the Red River Valley since his great grandfather settled here. His operation has done well growing corn, soybeans and grains, and now he wants to extend that success.
So he's investing time, effort and money in Mozambique, some 9,000 miles away.
Betting that Africa will be a big player in future world food production, Hardie and others are part of Aslan Global Management, a for-profit corporation investing millions of dollars to develop farmland there.
The organization has gotten a lease from the Mozambique government on 25,000 acres and expects to have all the land in production within five years, growing primarily soybeans and corn. [More background]
I will start in South Africa and plan to visit with some farmers there, who are struggling with a nation in turmoil. Then on to Tanzania and Mozambique to see Wallie's farms.

If I can get decent data-streaming, I'll be posting pics or at least a narrative of my journey.

Meanwhile, I'll share all the background research I'm doing.


Anonymous said...

I remain skeptical of these Africa farming ventures. Given the weak legal system in many of these countries there is no guarantee that with the next turnover of political regimes, all of the investment made in these farms could simply be confiscated just like has happened in South Africa. Good intentions are one thing but is this just midwestern naivete throwing its money away?

Anonymous said...

John, enjoy this trip of a lifetime as when we went to Africa in 2008 I was very apprehensive but it tirned out to be a life changing experience. Farmers doing forage with Claas self propelled harvesters and a mile away a guy with a machete and donkey and cart harvesting . AFRICA HAS UNBELIEVABLE potential. Remember a third world country remaking in Earl Butz era when America was going to feed the world that the rest of the world was not yet prepared to give up there food production-regards-kevin

John Phipps said...


I understand your reservations, but am suspending judgment until I know more.

I will point out that it isn't just naive Midwesterners, but a whole lotta Indians and Chinese involved in similar efforts.

And I'm old enough to remember similar attitudes about Brazil thirty years ago. Maybe our own Old World progenitors said the same things as well.

The problem is this: by the time skeptics are reassured, the opportunity will be much less alluring.

Anonymous said...

Well for one thing Africa is not South America. Also the Chinese and others are grabbing land in many places to supplement their own limited resources back home. As others have stated so plainly: China is all about China. They have no intention of helping Africa. It is 21st century colonialism pure and simple. Just like back in the 90s when they proceeded to clearcut a good part of the SE Asian forests for shipment back home. Time will tell but pure exploitation usually wins in the end.

Anonymous said...

PBS show a few weeks ago about sugar cane farm development in Africa. They noted that the people currently living off that land are being displaced. No deeds to the land and they have been their since Adam. Pluses and minuses. This is a minus. How would you like it?

Anonymous said...

Here's the PBS show about the sugar cane farm development in Mali, Africa3576