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Last week SA’s ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries published a media statement following a visit to the country by Saudi Arabian agriculture minister Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli. The statement essentially summarised the objective of the visit, but had one particularly interesting line: “The Saudi delegation expressed a desire to lease land in SA to produce a wide range of agricultural commodities, provided they can sign a lease of 99 years or more.” I posted this on Twitter, and a number of South Africans pushed back on the idea, suggesting the Saudis should rather import the agricultural products they need and not look at leasing land. Subsequent discussions I had with senior government officials echoed that sentiment. Setting aside the merits of these statements, my sense is that it overshadowed some important matters that were discussed during the visit that are worth highlighting. As a start, the main purpose of the visit was to discuss a memorandum of unde...

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