Land Grab in Africa

For example in Ethiopia – Linked on our blogs with Food Crisis and the Global Land Grab –, with World Bank land grab report: Beyond smoke and mirrors, and with Jean Ziegler – Switzerland and its links.

Published on Current Concerns, no 3, Source: Swiss radio (DRS International of 7 November 2010), February 2011.

Antje Diekhans, radio correspondent for Eastern and Central Africa at the ARD, a German broadcasting corporation, said in a contribution for Swiss radio DRS International that “In Ethiopia a proper sellout of the areas of farmland has begun. Investors come from everywhere, in order to secure for themselves a part of the farmland areas, because despite Ethiopia’s reputation as a country suffering from hunger, the ground is very fertile there. Nearly everything grows: Grain, rice, various kinds of fruit and vegetables.”

A young Indian is to build up a large-scale enterprise with 2,000 to 3,000 hectares of land, of which he has already obtained 1,000, so far. He wants to grow sunflowers there and produce palm oil at first, not for the Ethiopian market, however: “We will export to India and also to some European and Arab countries”, he explains to the radio correspondent. The rent for the land: 10 Euros per hectare – per year. 

Antje Diekhans: “Other Indian enterprises have already been settling in Ethiopia for a long time. The most well-known example is the Karoturi Company, at present world market leader in flowers. A good share of the millions of roses sold in supermarkets, grow here. Some time ago, Karoturi started to trade rice, sugar and wheat for export. The cultivation of areas for biodiesel is to follow. How much land Karoturi is tilling in Ethiopia is difficult to say. Rumors say that it is an area of about 300,000 hectares, which might be doubled soon. Sumit Agaval’s plans look almost modestly in comparison.” [...]

“Economic development is the government’s main argument for this land grab. Growth rates of approximately 10 per cent seem to prove that they are right. But in Ethiopia some will fall by the wayside. In front of a small hut in the west of the country a bent man is standing. Gidi Megale has 58 years, but after years of farm work he looks much older. The farmer has toiled all his life to be able to feed his wife and his eight children. Now, in his old days, when he wanted to take it easier he is faced with ruin.

Gidi Megale: “Nothing was left to me. All my land was taken away from me by the government and given to the big farmer. My children have left the house and are trying to make some money elsewhere. In good times I owned five hectares of land. We could live from it. Now everything is gone. I cannot pass anything on to my children. I am a nobody” … //

… “Seventy-five per cent of the world’s poor are rural, and most are engaged in farming. The need for more and better investment in agriculture to reduce poverty, increase economic growth, and promote environmental sustainability was already clear when there were ‘only’ 830 million hungry people before the food price rise. The case is even clearer today when, for the first time in human history, over a billion people go to bed hungry each night.
One of the highest development priorities in the world must be to improve smallholder agricultural productivity, especially in Africa. Smallholder productivity is essential for reducing poverty and hunger.” (full text).

(Klaus Deininger and Derek Byerlee with Jonathan Lindsay, Andrew Norton, Harris Selod, and Mercedes Stickler: Rising Global Interest in Farmland. Washington 2011, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.
(Cf.: – link does not work).

(2 texts inside 2 Boxes: – World-Wide Vagabonding Capital Fosters Bubble Formation … ,
and: – All in all one can say: “Free trade in agriculture leads to many losers and few winners … ).

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