Africa Is Up For Sale By The Acre To The Highest Bidder


Locutus
#1
Africa is up for sale by the acre to the highest bidder. But how can rice exports from Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia be justified?

Land grabs have grabbed global attention. It’s on the agenda at the World Economic Forum this week, and as the trend for large land acquisitions accelerates, it has moved from being primarily a story about Middle Eastern petrodollars pouring into Africa, to a much more widely spread phenomenon affecting many parts of south-east Asia, such as the Phillipines, as well as Latin America.

In Cambodia, 15% of land has been signed over to private companies since 2005, a third of which are foreign. A new set of research studies from the International Land Coalition find the competition for land increasingly global and unequal.

Many of the deals are shrouded in secrecy, so the scale of what is happening is not clear, nor is it clear who is benefiting from these deals; a number of new reports try to tease these issues out, such as theInternational Institute for Environment and Development’s analysis of legal contract, which is published on Monday.

It’s not hard to see why the subject generates so much attention. It’s partly the secrecy element, partly the fear: who is buying up the future? Large-scale land acquisition prompts all too vividly visions of a dystopian future in which millions of the hungry are excluded from the land of their forefathers by barbed wire fences and security guards as food is exported to feed the rich world.

This is no longer just a fear for the future. The US environmentalist Lester Brown points out in his new book, World on the Edge, that in 2009 Saudi Arabia received its first shipment of rice produced on land it had acquired in Ethiopia while at the same time the World Food Programme was feeding 5 million Ethiopians. Similarly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, China has acquired 7 million hectares for palm oil production and yet millions of people in the DRC are dependent on international aid for food.

Brown warns that “land grabbing is an integral part of the global power struggle for food security”. He argues that geopolitics for several centuries have been dominated by the issue of access to markets, but increasingly in the future this will be replaced by the overriding importance of access to supplies. Food importing countries are anxiously securing their food supplies, all too aware that exporting countries can impose export bans to meet their needs. In 2007 both Russia and Argentina, major grain exporters, put in place export bans and it sent waves of panic around the world, which have probably played a big part in fuelling land acquisition deals.

Much of the attention so far has focused on Africa. Most of the biggest deals have been in countries such as Ethiopia, Mali and Sudan. The imminently independent south Sudan has seen investors queuing up to exploit one of the areas of greatest potential for as yet under developed agricultural land. In comparison with many other areas of the world, land in Africa is very cheap; in Ethiopia, land can be leased for as little as $1 an acre.

China is acquiring land at the fastest rate, but South Korea is not far behind. It has now set up an agency specifically dedicated to making direct agreements with farmers and landowners to secure supplies.


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http://www.globalresearch.ca/africa-is-up-for-sale-by-the-acre-to-the-highest-bidder/5381630
 
Blackleaf
#2
Blencathra, a mountain in the Lake District, is up for sale, too.
 

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