Friday, April 08, 2011

More on Land Grabbing

Investment by big agribusinesses and foreign governments in the farmland of developing world countries is not the answer to increasing food production and reducing poverty in poor nations, a global conference on land grabbing heard.

Olivier de Schutter, the UN’s special rapporteur on the Right to Food, rejected arguments that collaboration and investment with big businesses is the only way food production can rise sufficiently to feed the world’s growing population. The private sector is driving a change towards large scale industrial agriculture in areas such as Africa. This is pushing out small scale farmers who can’t compete on price, deepening local poverty and driving deforestation and environmental degradation, he said. A key problem is that most developing world governments, particularly in Africa, lack laws to regulate market competition and control abuses of power by dominant multi-nationals, says de Schutter. In addition, many companies and governments looking to buy up foreign land target countries with weak governance, which often have food security problems of their own.

Ian Scoones, joint convenor of the Future Agricultures Consortium, a collaboration of African and UK scientists based at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University, explained that the international community should be “very concerned” about the increased rush for land in Africa. The impact of international land deals on farmers and poor communities often “remains hidden”, he said.

No comments: