July 16, 2010 / 5:23 AM / 9 years ago

Congo says talking to China on land for palm oil

A worker at a palm oil plantation handles newly harvested fruits, in Agusan del Sur province, southern Philippines December 14, 2009. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo is studying a proposal to provide land to China to grow large amounts of palm for oil production in the vast central African country, a government minister told Reuters on Thursday.

Details of the plan were scarce but it comes as arable land around the world is in short supply due to climate change and other factors, and Africa’s land supply attracts growing attention from wealthier resource-hungry nations.

“There’s a study for oil palm farms on an industrial scale but it has not been presented to government and nothing has been signed yet,” Minister of Information Lambert Mende told Reuters by telephone, giving no further details.

Mende said Congo’s Finance Minister Matata Ponyo was visiting China to discuss a range of energy and infrastructure deals, following the cancellation of debt worth $8 billion by multilateral institutions including the World Bank this month.

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