Conquering new lands is happening again. This type of take over of one country by another is happening through the buy out of the poorer country’s arable lands which are now worth their weight in gold. As the world food shortage escalates and country’s run out of both food and water, countries short of resources and corporations desperate for profits are buying up arable land in emerging nations.
The non-governmental organizations representing the little poor guy are voicing alarm at this “global land grab,” which they say is threatening the survival of rural livelihoods in some parts of the world.
The practice is being carried out in part by countries which have little arable land and have been hit this year by soaring food prices, and by investors who are getting burned in the financial crisis and are tempted by the profits from food products.
“So governments that rely on imports to feed their people are snatching up vast areas of farmland abroad for their own offshore food production,” said the Spanish-based NGO Grain.
“On the other hand, food corporations and private investors, hungry for profits in the midst of the deepening financial crisis, see investment in foreign farmland as an important new source of revenue.”
The result is that fertile agricultural land is becoming privatized and concentrated and controlled by big agriculture and investment banks for GMO food production and the devastation of the environment.
The Arab countries in the Gulf, China, Egypt, India, Japan and South Korea are looking to buy out large areas in the Philippines, Cambodia, Uganda and Brazil, said Grain. While in South Korean a group Daewoo Logistics is negotiating with the government of Madagascar for the acquisition of 1.3 million hectares of land, the equivalent of more than half of the land under cultivation in the country, to produce maize and palm oil.
The buying up of arable land “is a phenomenon of huge magnitude” which has undergone “a sudden acceleration,” said Paul Mathieu, of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation’s Land Tenure and Management unit.
This could spell the end of small-scale farming, and rural livelihoods, in numerous places around the world.
Increasing transparency in transactions between investor states and local communities giving up territory is needed. The negotiations between outside investors and the local community,need to be clear and fair to both sides.
Global land grab’ causing alarm among NGOs – Fabien Zamora Dec 23, 2008. Terra Daily Express.