Serbian farmers unhappy at 'inconceivable' land deal

Thursday, 31 July, 2014

Tension brews in Serbia as land is “given to Arabs”

Following a bit of a land conflict theme today, we learn from an Inserbia report that farmers in Vojvodina are protesting against the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture, which has apparently leased over 3,000 hectares of prime arable land to a UAE company called “Al Rafaved.” 

More strange, should the allegations be accurate, is the fact that the land was leased so cheaply, at 250 euros per hectare (presumably annually, though the timescale is not clear).

“It is inconceivable,” farmers’ representative Radomir Bozovic is quoted as saying, “that the most fertile land is given to Arabs at almost twice lower than the actual price and without public bidding, for a period of 30 years, while domestic tenants could have leased it only for 3 years and for 400 euros per hectare.” 

Bozovic also claimed that local farmers were willing to make the same investments in in irrigation and mechanization that Al Rafaved promised.

Foreign investors have been interested in agriculture in the Balkans for some time, as fertile land and labour are relatively cheap there. Investors from the Gulf in particular have sought diversification in order to assure their food security.

There is clearly more to this story than is clear through this brief piece, and as we pick it up we’ll bring it to you.