Friday, November 27, 2009

Selling Africa

two links via Afrikasources

Stop the Land Grab

To date, more than 40 million hectares have changed hands or are under negotiation -- 20 million of which in Africa alone. And we calculate that over $100 billion have been put on the table to make it happen. Despite the governmental grease here or there, these deals are mainly signed and carried out by private corporations, in collusion with host country officials. GRAIN has compiled various sample data sets of who the land grabbers are and what the deals cover, but most of the information is kept secret from the public, for fear of political backlash.

Nothing in this race for farmlands in the South is in the interest of local communities, whether you're talking about Pakistan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Madagascar, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia or Mali. Many of these countries are tremendously food insecure themselves. And these land grabs are designed to do away with small scale farming, not to improve it. If only for that reason alone, this new global land grab has been quickly seen by social movements as a recipe for profound conflict -- over not only land, but water as well.

Today in Rome, we have a microcosm of this conflict. Over at the FAO, governments, international agencies (like the World Bank) and private companies (like Yara, Bunge and Dreyfus) are trying to work out what they call codes of conduct or voluntary guidelines to make these deals “win-win”. Their main concern is the money. They don't want the dollars and the dirhams being put on the table for farmland acquisitions to run away. So they have constructed an opportunistic response: to make these land deals “work” by managing the risks involved. And we know why. After 50 years of agricultural modernisation schemes like the Green Revolution and biotechnology, and the last 30 years of broader structural adjustment programmes, we have more hungry people on the planet than ever. It's plain knowledge that all these programmes to supposedly feed the world have backfired. Unfortunately, the World Bank and others have now decided that the best option is to fly forward, follow the money and install large scale agribusiness operations everywhere, particularly where they have not taken root yet, in order to fix the problem. That is the essence of the land grab paradigm: to expand and entrench the Western model of large scale commodity value chains. In other words: more corporate-controlled food production for export.

The whole article is an "Ain't it awful"...
The part against the green revolution is typical: Note that part about more people hungry? Well, it's because there are more people (i.e. they haven't starved to death). The actual number of hungry people is lower.

Nowadays, the only people starving are in failed countries such as North Korea or Zimbabwe, and it is due to failed governments

Ghadaffi asks to stop African land grab.

But U.N. officials said investments in land could also benefit small farmers in the developing world.

"It is a wrong language to call them land grabs. Those are investments in farmland like investments in oil exploration," said Kanayo Nwanze, who heads the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development. "We can have win-win situations."

Earlier this year the International Food Policy Research Institute, a Washington-based think-tank, said that since 2006 15-20 million hectares of land in poor countries had been sold or were under negotiations for sale to foreign buyers.

Supporters of such deals say they provide new seeds, technology and money for agriculture in economies that have suffered from under-investment for decades.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf told the summit "private investment should be encouraged," both domestic and foreign, but rules were required "preferably within the spirit of a code of conduct on agricultural investment in developing countries."

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