Thursday, July 29, 2010

Land Grab

Socialist Banner have repeatedly drawn attention to the Great African Land Grab and another story about it has been spotted. As commodity prices have soared on the back of rising global food demand, weather fluctuations and a growing biofuels industry, anti-poverty campaigners have grown increasingly concerned about speculative land-grabbing in Africa and other developing regions.

A World Bank report is due to be published next month, but a draft copy leaked to the Financial Times painted a picture of largely speculative investment badly lacking agricultural expertise, and a rush towards countries with lax laws. It mentioned only a handful of successes.

"Investor interest is focused on countries with weak land governance,"
the draft said. Although investment deals promised jobs and infrastructure "investors failed to follow through on their investment plans, in some cases after inflicting serious damage on the local resource base". The report also flagged that "the level of formal payments required was low", thereby fuelling speculative investment. Investors crowd out the poorest local producers and at the same time invest little in improving the agricultural processes needed to meet the huge jump in world food production required to feed a growing population.

Aurelie Walker, Fairtrade Foundation's trade policy advisor, said: "Governments with weak institutions laws and regulations are easy targets for wealthy investors."

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