land rush–worldwide

4-29-13    In 2009 alone, the World Bank estimates that around the world foreign investors acquired about 56 million hectares of farmland – an area about the size of France – by long-term lease or by purchase. Farmland has become a favourite “new asset” class for private investors; “like gold, only better” according to Capital & Crisis.

african_land_grab_companiesThe World Bank has its own term for the new global land rush. It calls it “agro-investment” and has developed seven voluntary principles to make the land deals “responsible”.

Critics of the phenomenon – farmers’ movements, human rights, civil society, women’s and environmental organisations, and many scientists – call it “land grabbing”. They say there is no way that the taking over vast areas of smallholder farmland and transforming it into giant industrial plantations and agribusiness operations can ever be “responsible”.

They argue that land grabs are throwing millions of farming families and indigenous peoples off their land. They say that it’s not just land that’s being grabbed, but also precious water resources.  http://www.agrostandard.ro/the-new-african-land-grab/

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The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) recently reported that nearly three dozen countries designated as “alarming” or “serious” on its Global Hunger Index scale are leasing vast swaths of farmland to international investors. IFPRI revealed that these foreign investors are cultivating crops and then immediately spiriting them out of these hunger-riven nations. Seven countries with high hunger levels—Cambodia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Laos, Liberia, the Philippines, and Sierra Leone—have each agreed to deals that collectively constitute more than 10% of their total agricultural area (the figure approaches 20% in Sierra Leone). Oxfam just announced a similar finding: Two-thirds of large-scale land acquisitions have occurred in countries with “a serious hunger problem.”  http://issues.org/29-2/perspectives/

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https://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/The-21st-century-African-land-rush.pdf   (map enlarges)

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Communities are resisting this corporate takeover of their land and they are winning. All over Africa people are sending a clear message to their governments: “Stop selling Africa to corporations!” The Jogbahn Clan in Liberia is one such community and here is their story.

The sense of jubilation in Blayahstown, small town in Liberia, is palpable. People come from surrounding villages to join in the celebrations and the town is filled with singing and dancing.

The Jogbahn Clan is celebrating a victory as the President of Liberia has now recognised their right to say no Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) a British palm oil company grabbing their land.

This is no small feat in a country where over 50% of the land has been given to corporations without the consent of the communities who customarily own the land.  http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/07/the-corporate-land-grab-in-africa/

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Across the African continent, land grabs by corporate conglomerates, American universities and European financial speculators have prompted worry among Africans concerned about a new form of colonialism taking shape.

Universities like Harvard and Vanderbilt are using British hedge funds and European financial speculators to buy or lease vast areas of African farmland in deals—and according to a new study by the California-based Oakland Institute, some of the speculation may force many thousands of people off their land.

In addition, a landmark G8 initiative that was hailed by President Obama two years ago as a boon to Africa because it would boost agriculture and relieve poverty has instead had the destructive effect of moving African governments to change seed, land and tax laws to favor private investors over small farmers.

In the 10 nations that made more than 200 policy commitments as a result of the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative—which pledged to accelerate agricultural production and lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022—laws and regulations are being altered to give giant agribusinesses unprecedented access to decision-makers over the past two years. The countries are making it easier for companies to do business in Africa through the easing of export controls and tax laws, and through governments corraling huge chunks of land for investment.  http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/02/18/land-grabs-africa-u-s-corporations-universities-leading-new-colonialism/

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One News | 14 January 2014 All foreign applications to buy NZ land approved – Peters New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is labelling the Overseas Investment Office a rubber stamping machine, saying all 189 applications for overseas ownership of New Zealand land in the past two years have been approved. “This just proves the Overseas Investment Office is a rubber stamping machine and applications are a pointless exercise. It’s all a charade,” Mr Peters says. “The fact is we are lagging behind in the stewardship of our land as we become a target for foreign investment gobbling up our best productive land,” he says.     http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24421-all-foreign-applications-to-buy-nz-land-approved-peters#sthash.pgfkmqmO.dpuf

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http://www.circleofblue.org/LAND.html        world map of land rush

http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2012/world/u-s-u-k-and-china-lead-foreign-land-investments-in-agriculture-and-finance/

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As the world’s population soars past 7 billion, farmland and freshwater are becoming increasingly valuable resources.

CRITICS WORRY THAT THE TRADE HAS SPURRED A RISE IN ‘LAND GRABBING’

And, in response, a growing number of companies and investors — Wall Street traders, Chinese state corporations, Gulf sheiks — have been buying up farmland abroad. The trade has been booming since 2007, when a spike in grain prices got everyone fretting about shortages. The purchases help countries like China and Saudi Arabia secure food supplies and conserve water domestically. But critics worry that the trade has also spurred a rise in “land grabs” — when sellers in countries like Ethiopia or Cambodia forcibly acquire the farmland from locals in the first place.

So how big is the trade? A new study in Environmental Research Letters finds that at least 126 countries are now involved in purchasing or selling global farmland. The most active buyers are investors in the United States, China, Britain, Germany, India, and the Netherlands. They’re typically seeking out land in South America, Africa, and Asia — particularly Brazil, Ethiopia, Philippines, Sudan, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Tanzania. The trading map looks like this:

global land trade

The color of the node shows to what extent a country is an importer (gray) or an exporter of land (red), and the size of the node represents the number of trading partners. The links represent the flow of land acquired by an importer from an exporter. Link colors are that of the importing node. (Seaquist et al, 2014)   http://www.vox.com/2014/11/20/7254883/farmland-trade-land-grab

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