By Lucinda Elliott of LatAm Confidential

Commodity prices may be weaker but South American food producers still enjoy formidable comparative advantages. Foreign investors seeking to benefit from the enormous pick up in Chinese demand for agricultural commodities grown in Latin America have however had a fairly complicated time.

A 2010 law limits direct foreign ownership of land in Brazil. Tax and foreign constraints limit the profitability of farming in Argentina and listed agribusiness stocks are few and far between, making it hard for investors to buy into the sector in the region’s agriculture powerhouses. Read more

By Vladislav Baumgertner of Uralkali

Just last week US President Barack Obama spoke in Senegal about private sector commitments to tackle food security issues in Africa. Indeed the problem of food security is one of the most pressing global issues. Around 925m people, including over 200m children under five, are going hungry. The food riots we witnessed in 2008 and 2011 in more than 20 countries highlight how food vulnerability is a serious destabilising factor for economies. Read more

By Andrey Oleinik, managing director of Basic Element Agribusiness

The world’s agricultural industry needs a radical shake up. Falling food production and rising demand means it is vital that the sector improves production efficiency and increases the amount of land under cultivation.

But the world’s largest producers have little, if any, land to open up and are already operating close to maximum efficiency. With 40m hectares of uncultivated tillable land, Russia has the potential to become the world’s number one cereal producer and provide the global bridge between food supply and demand. Read more

Ivica Todoric, the bullish owner of Agrokor, Croatia’s largest company, has, after many years of wooing, secured a majority stake in Mercator, Slovenia’s biggest retailer and largest employer.

Agrokor has announced that it has agreed with Mercator shareholders to take a 53.1 per cent stake in the company for €240m. The deal values Mercator at €120 per share, substantially below the €221 Agrokor reportedly offered last year. Read more

Nigeria may be best known for its mammoth population and huge oil reserves but with its oil industry in crisis, sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest economy is drawing investors back into one of its long-forgotten sectors: agriculture.

The country has attracted billions of dollars of inflows into the sector since 2011 and is now seeking investors for new agricultural processing zones, Akinwumi Adesina, agriculture minister (pictured), told beyondbrics as he prepared to attend a summit on hunger and nutrition in London. Read more

Argentina has an impressive ability, it seems, to bite the hand that feeds it: farming.

It’s an impression reinforced by Rabobank’s latest Argentine agribusiness outlook. Argentina’s farming sector, which makes up nearly 60 per cent of total exports ($47bn in 2012, and that was a bad year because of drought), is a key economic breadwinner, bringing home the dollars that are essential to an economically choppy country still with debt in default and cut off from international capital markets. Read more

Olam, the Asian agribusiness, is looking to test out an ambitious diversification plan in Africa. In a way, it shouldn’t be a surprise – Olam started in Africa as part of an Indian conglomerate producing cotton for Nigerian markets, before it began exporting agri-commodities, and eventually morphing into a fully fledged rubber-to-cashews business listed in Singapore.

It is in Africa where the company is looking to branch out into fertiliser plants, plantations and consumer goods, according to Ranveer Chauhan, managing director and regional head for Olam in Africa. Read more

With recession fears spreading across the globe, finding safe investments is becoming trickier by the day. There is one thing, however, that the world’s growing population is certain to spend on, even in times of recession: food.

Ukraine’s budding agribusiness and food companies are well positioned to help feed a hungry world. Among them is London-listed MHP, the country’s largest poultry producer.

“Ukraine today is still known as the breadbasket of Europe, but we hold vast potential to also become the meat basket of Europe by exporting meat and other value-added food products,” says Yuriy Kosyuk, CEO and majority owner of MHP. Read more

After running into trouble with international sanctions in Iran, India’s top basmati rice exporter is focusing on Africa.

While Africa today consumes only small amounts of basmati, KRBL is seeing rapid growth – and it hopes to see much more in the coming years. As African consumers get richer, they are expected to develop a taste for more expensive imported foods. Read more

Flower growers, among Ethiopia’s key export revenue earners, are confident that the death of prime minister Meles Zenawi, won’t push the govenment from its commitments to supporting agribusiness.

Hailemariam Desalegn, acting prime minister during Meles’ absence, is set to be sworn in as Ethiopia’s leader until 2015 in an apparent effort to smooth the transition, and is expected to carry on where Meles left off with supportive conditions for investors in agriculture, Ethiopia’s most important industry. Read more