Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Rich Countries Launch Great Land Grab to Safeguard Food Supply"

"Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of "neo-colonialism", with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

Rising food prices have already set off a second "scramble for Africa". This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports."
Read the rest of this Guardian UK article here.

What will happen to poor peasant farmers in neo-colonial deals like this? This is no doubt the beginning of a new era of mining where food and bio fuels are the desired minerals.

Imagine the consequences; rich countries grow food crops and bio fuel in poor countries, using the local and/or regional labour, and then they turn around and sell the finished food products back to the poor countries.

We should also not lose sight of the fact that these new "scramble" deals will lay hand to massive amounts of water. This may be the most disatrious aspect.

The new "scramble" is a closed and vicious circle that will add to the destruction of local economies as much as it will erode local crop diversity and drive local/peasant farmers from their land.

All in all, poor countries will be tied even more into the whims and needs of the rich developed countries and the tensions of war and strife that are part of this historically unbalanced relationship.

We have been here before, in fact, we never left.


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