LONDON, Oct 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) plans to make all of its large-scale
agricultural contracts public, in an effort to increase
transparency over land deals and improve management of natural
resources, officials and researchers said on Wednesday.
DRC will provide summaries of the deals including social,
environmental and fiscal provisions, as well as tools for
comparing contracts in an online database, which will be linked
to global land database OpenLandContracts.org.
Africa's second largest country by geographical area is rich
in land, minerals and other natural resources but conflict and
corruption have kept many of its 81 million people in poverty,
Investment in the country's fertile farmland could help
boost development but large-scale land deals must take into
account the land rights of local populations and subsistence
farmers, campaigners say.
DRC aims to disclose an estimated 20 agricultural contracts
by early 2017, according to the New York-based Columbia Center
on Sustainable Investment, which is behind
The site has already published details relating to a few
contracts covering hundreds of thousands of hectares in DRC.
Kaitlin Cordes, head of land and agriculture at Columbia's
Center on Sustainable Investment, welcomed the Congolese
"Despite the strong consensus at this point on the
importance of transparency, too few governments and investors
have been willing to make their agricultural and forestry
contracts publicly available," she said in a statement.
Launched a year ago, OpenLandContracts.org lists details of
deals involving palm oil plantations, sugar cane, biofuels,
soybeans, tea and other crops in 13 countries.
(Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters
Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers
humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights
and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more