The great land grab

The big money may be moving out of stock markets across the world and it may be worried about the security of bank deposits but one thing is sure; it is rushing into investing in land, arable land, around the tropical and sub tropical world. In the past ten years Oxfam reports that 227 million hectares of farm land have been bought or leased by big business and investors.

227 million hectares is quite a large chunk of land. It is equivalent to the size of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.

InIndonesia,Uganda, South Sudan Honduras and Guatemala farmland has moved out of the control of local farmers and into the control investors and speculators.  What once produced food for local people is now producing food for international markets and biofuel.

There are two reasons why investors are pouring into buying land all over the world. The first reason is the fear that as the world population grows food will become increasing expensive. In 2008 the price of corn (maize), wheat and rice rose to unprecedented levels. The fear that our supplies of food may not be secure led to some of the people with money thinking it might be a good idea to lay up some land where land is cheap.

The second reason is the fear that fuel is becoming increasingly expensive and it is now viable to grow fuel, instead of digging it out of the ground or using solar and wind energy. Indeed the European Union requires member states to aspire to a target of using 20% of transport fuel from sustainable sources, which means growing it. In many nations biofuels are subsidised by taxpayers which manages to ensure that somewhere in a poor part of the world arable land that was worked by small communities for generations in a sustainable fashion will now be given over to growing crops not for feeding people but for powering cars in the United States and the European Union. In effect the rich are subsidised to buy or rent land and devote it to biofuels rather than food for local consumption.

Those who lived on the land and worked it no longer live on it and no longer work it. What was used to feed the poor in a poor nation is now dedicated to producing cash in international markets.

The problem is particularly difficult inAfrica, which has always suffered from exploitation and land grabs for the past four hundred years. The rich oppress the poor: it was always thus. The fact that now the rich are subsidised to oppress the poor adds a new dimension.

One Response

  1. Now you are saying it how it is!



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