Abu Dhabi Social Responsibility Firm Plans Organic Farm in Ghana

Ghana, African land grabs, Middle East, Nahtam, Abu Dhabi, organic farming, carbon offsets, climate change, global warmingWhile many companies in the Middle East are grabbing land throughout Africa to buffer resource scarcity, Abu Dhabi-based firm Nahtam has plans to plant an organic farm in Ghana to offset carbon and create jobs.

“Carbon footprint is a global issue and the simplest and easiest method to offset carbon is to plant as many trees as you can,” George Itty, chief executive of Nahtam, told The National.

So instead of planting trees in Abu Dhabi, where high temperatures, excess sunlight, and water scarcity would make such a project very expensive and potentially open to failure, the firm has set its sights on a 4,000 acre plot of land in Accra, Ghana instead.

In addition to having a “healthy” workforce that is desperately in need of jobs, Itty says that Ghana has the requisite climate for organic farming.

After a year of negotiating to purchase the appropriate piece of land, Nahtam is almost ready to start planting crops within the next six months. These will include bananas, avocados, pineapples and palm oil, according to The National.

Additionally, as part of a longer term investment, the group will plant teak and rubber trees – both coveted crops that will take some time to mature. And they promise to do all of this in a manner that is both environmentally and socially harmonious.

“We won’t use chemicals,” Mr Itty told the paper. “Even the power will be from solar and wind so it will be sustainable.”

Already, 36 villages have been set up to house the 2,000 or so locals who will be employed for the project and crops will reportedly be sold locally and exported. Sounds like a meaningful endeavor, but it would be interesting to see the setup on the other side.

Other projects, under the guise of creating food security for populations in the Middle East, have resulted in the displacement of local populations.

For a list of several countries that have had their land usurped, check out this post written by former Green Prophet writer Arwa Aburawa. Particularly harsh is the displacement of thousands of Ethiopians.

Nahtam is committed to social responsibility. That is the firm’s big thrust, so there’s little reason to suspect that this initiative is infused with anything less than integrity. However, it’s certainly worth watching to ensure that this isn’t a wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing.

:: The National

Image of Ghana maize stamp, Shutterstock  

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