Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Land-Grabs or Development Opportunities — What Do You Think?

9/27/2010 5:18:27 PM

Tags: question to readers, food security, world hunger

Earth CloudsAccording to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), wealthy countries have come up with a novel solution to the problem of increasingly scarce land resources for the production of food and fuel. In order to feed and otherwise support their rapidly growing populations, they’re buying land to farm in places such as Africa and South America, then exporting the goods back to their own citizens.

Agribusiness organizations and financial giants have seized the opportunity as well. A clickable map of land acquisitions from IFPRI shows large purchases in Ethiopia by Flora EcoPower, a German biofuels company, and Sun Biofuels of the United Kingdom. Agricultural organizations from Saudi Arabia and Jordan have purchased thousands of hectares in the Sudan for the production of food crops and livestock. Even financial services giant Morgan Stanley has purchased a large tract of land in the Ukraine for a yet-unspecified purpose.

So what does this mean? The ratio of proponents to opponents appears to be close to even, mirroring the equal opportunity for positive and negative outcomes. With the proper oversight, complete with human rights and environmental controls in place, this could be a great benefit to the “host” country, supplying badly needed income and infrastructure. Without such controls, the possibility of exploitation is high.

Follow the intriguing debate in this blog series from the Worldwatch Institute: Innovations in Access to Land: Land Grab or Agricultural Investment?, Is There a “Win-Win” Solution to Land Acquisitions?, Large Scale Land Grabs Do Not Benefit Local Communities and Leaked World Bank Report Highlights Extent of Land Crab Problem. Let us know what you think about the issue in the comments below.



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CARMEN ORTIZ
11/23/2010 7:45:08 AM
Kumbaya, Kumbaya my TimSVH, Kumbaya. "While there are indeed a number of very dubious land deals, the phenomenon of foreign investment in agricultural land is not necessarily a negative practice." Couldn't disagree more. Positive practice would be to help the people develop their own land with NO conditions. You have to be very naive to believe that "foreign investment" comes with altruistic intentions of helping 'them poor folks' have a better life. If by "foreign investment" you mean what Heifer International and other similar non-profit do, then yes, it can be a positive practice. But for-profit corporations? You have got to be joking. Notice I said HI and similar, which DOES NOT include what Bill Gates and similar folks do by trying to impose agricultural methods that will force the people to depend on Multinational Corporations to continue growing food. Help yes, taking over absolutely not.

Tim SVH
11/23/2010 1:07:28 AM
While there are indeed a number of very dubious land deals, the phenomenon of foreign investment in agricultural land is not necessarily a negative practice. Foreign investment and involvement in the development of the agricultural sector in developing countries -- especially in Africa -- is can also bring many benefits for the local population. But, for investments to be mutual beneficial they should be transparent, fully discussed and negotiated with local communities, respecting the right to food and land, and based upon a human security approach. I realise that many of these factors are lacking or opaque in most of the reported 'land grabs'. However, I think we should be careful not to easily brand foreign investment as 'neo-colonialism' and appreciate the potential of new knowledge and modern technology. I'm in the process of studying a well establish investment project in West Kenya, which has been branded on several occasions as a true land grab, on which I will report early next year on www.state-of-affairs.org For more of my thoughts on food security and land grabs, see my post "land grabs in the limelight" http://www.state-of-affairs.org/2010/10/08/land-grabs-in-the-limelight/

Tim SVH
11/23/2010 1:01:31 AM
While there are indeed a number of very dubious land deals, the phenomenon of foreign investment in agricultural land is not necessarily a negative practice. Foreign investment and involvement in the development of the agricultural sector in developing countries -- especially in Africa -- is can also bring many benefits for the local population. But, for investments to be mutual beneficial they should be transparent, fully discussed and negotiated with local communities, respecting the right to food and land, and based upon a human security approach. I realise that many of these factors are lacking or opaque in most of the reported 'land grabs'. However, I think we should be careful not to easily brand foreign investment as 'neo-colonialism' and appreciate the potential of new knowledge and modern technology. I'm in the process of studying a well establish investment project in West Kenya, which has been branded on several occasions as a true land grab, on which I will report early next year on www.state-of-affairs.org For more of my thoughts on food security and land grabs, see my post "land grabs in the limelight" http://www.state-of-affairs.org/2010/10/08/land-grabs-in-the-limelight/

Jamie K._1
11/22/2010 10:04:06 AM
Gee, sounds just like the Colonial method again, except with a token payment instead of outright takover.

SteveR
9/29/2010 10:07:59 PM
Wealthy countries do not have rapidly growing populations. Wealthy countries simply need resources which is greater than that provided by their own country ( ie: unsustainable). This has always been the source of the wealth (waste). African countries used to have abundant food and even surpluses until they began to adopt ( or rather were forced to adopt) western farming practices. On the other hand, don't be fooled into thinking that countries like China aren't doing the same thing. China is buying up the south pacific to secure resources for its growth.

CARMEN ORTIZ
9/29/2010 9:15:27 PM
"best practices and humanitarian", "good stewards and assisting", "improving their plight". Someone has been reading lots of 'Soup for the Soul'. Of course, it's not good. The locals live nearby (probably their land to begin with) going hungry with no hope of being able to afford the food that's being shipped out of the country; no jobs because everything is mechanized; lots of "government" folks getting paybacks that fill only their pockets and on and on. But I guess it beats the alternative, taking the land and not even paying for it. That's been happening for hundreds of years so I guess paying for the land is slightly better. Certainly USA businesses have absolutely no need to do it but they do because they will make a lot more money exploiting third world countries than they can here.

Nigel Pitt
9/29/2010 2:34:49 PM
International companies moving into countries like Africa and South America and buying and in most cases stealing the vast acreages in the name of sustainable agriculture is worse than about anything I can describe.For those of us that live and farm anywhere other than Europe and worse the disgustingly greedy farmers of the USA with all of their subsidies that they have so happily gobbled up over the past 50-60 years --you should be ashamed of your selves.You are mostly fast to offer AID so you can get rid of your mountains of food,but we cannot penetrate your boundaries when we have a chance.Farming in Africa is not easy-and especially when we have to deal with the thieving bunch in Doha and all the other cretinous so called decision makers. Stop all subsidies for ALL farmers let all of us compete on an equal basis and then see what can be done.Africa is not a basket case.I admit it appears so and you are to blame.

Edward Croft
9/29/2010 12:00:47 PM
We are like locusts destroying everything in our unquenchable desire for more! As Eric said, we need to learn to live within our own means. Go into any grocery store and you see aisle upon aisle of food. Yet, when that food hits the expiration date it is first destroyed then thrown out. This is so that people don't pick the bins for food that may still be palatable, just out of date. We waste so much while many go hungry. Of course, having a plethora of food has also turned us into an obese nation. Maybe if we changed the paradigm of fear that we have been placed under, we might just find that there is enough for everyone right here right now, without going and tearing down the forests of some other country and destroying their lands just so we have more to throw out.

Eric Bottomly
9/29/2010 11:11:32 AM
No! Emphatically no. We need to start living within our means.

Eric Bottomly
9/29/2010 11:07:59 AM
No! Emphatically no. We need to start living within our means.

Abbey Bend
9/29/2010 9:56:00 AM
The countries land is being purchased in are lands with almost no government, and certainly not governments that care one iota about the people of those lands. The governments of the countries buying the land have no history of caring about people of those lands or any other peoples of the world. So to even consider there may be a reasonable outcome is foolish, nothing has been done by any of the players to indicate this is for the common good, nothing indicates this is going to change anytime soon or ever! The only interesting question is what will the people of the countries having their land bought up to be farmed by foreigners do when they are hungry? My thought is the same as what they have done in the past because they have no firearms to protect themselves, just the military has weapons, NOTHING! This will end very baddly for those living in the countries being bought up, corruption has no reason to change when it is controlled by so few.

Dale Haverty_2
9/29/2010 9:17:30 AM
The key to such aquisitions being beneficial to the host countries and the world in general is, of course, "control" by the hosts to ensure that practices of the the companies are in the best interests of their citizens. We know that this probably won't happen and this will be another source of money for corrupted officials. The other possibility is for companies to act in a manner consistant with conservation best practices and humanitarian assistance. Tremendous strides could be made by companies being good stewards and assisting local people in improving their plight, both in terms of food supply and health. This could be a very minor cost in terms of the total outlay with respect to the total project. The opportunities here are endless as are the possibility of problems. Hopefully good will prevail.

MY COMMUNITY






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