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African Land Grabs - fuel for conflict?

Huge purchases or leases of land by foreign investors have been
going on in Africa and South America for a number of years now.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo something like fifty percent
of the land area of the country has been leased or sold.

In Mali about 7% of the country's arable land had been subject
to such deals by 2010:


In Mali and other cases, small farmers and entire villages are being thrown off
land they've worked for generations, with little or no compensation and nowhere
to go. It's not like we're making the Islamists' recruiting any harder for them.

(from 2010 New York Times)

African Farmers Displaced as Investors Move In

In much of the developing world, foreign interests are taking over large expanses of arable land from poor rural farmers. Hedge funds, agro-companies and governments are involved. These land grabs destroy villages, uproot farmers, and leave poor people landless. Wealthier nations will consume much of the produce from the land, resulting in major migration and wider hunger.

By Neil MacFarquhar
NY Times
December 21, 2010

The half-dozen strangers who descended on this remote West African village brought its hand-to-mouth farmers alarming news: their humble fields, tilled from one generation to the next, were now controlled by Libya's leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and the farmers would all have to leave.

They told us this would be the last rainy season for us to cultivate our fields; after that, they will level all the houses and take the land," said Mama Keita, 73, the leader of this village veiled behind dense, thorny scrubland. "We were told that Qaddafi owns this land."

Across Africa and the developing world, a new global land rush is gobbling up large expanses of arable land. Despite their ageless traditions, stunned villagers are discovering that African governments typically own their land and have been leasing it, often at bargain prices, to private investors and foreign governments for decades to come.

Organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank say the practice, if done equitably, could help feed the growing global population by introducing large-scale commercial farming to places without it.

But others condemn the deals as neocolonial land grabs that destroy villages, uproot tens of thousands of farmers and create a volatile mass of landless poor. Making matters worse, they contend, much of the food is bound for wealthier nations.


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