Stampede by wealthy states for arable land across Africa (African Agriculture)

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Africa land grabs ‘could cause conflict’

The stampede by wealthy states for arable land across Africa and other developing regions could trigger a series of conflicts if governments fail to protect the rights of their people, two recent studies on land grabs warn.

“Controversial land acquisitions were key a factor triggering the civil wars in Sudan, Liberia and Sierra Leone and there is every reason to be concerned that conditions are ripe for new conflicts to occur in many other places,” cautioned Jeffrey Hatcher, director of global programs with Rights and Resources Initiative, a US-based non governmental organization.

RRI estimates that a 500 million people in sub-Saharan Africa depend on 3.46 billion acres of communally held farmland that has been a primary target of foreign governments and investors seeking to produce food specifically for non-African populations.


Green investments are falsely upheld as climate solutions (Google / BBQ)

Read at : Google Alert – images of the Africa Drought

Land grabs

False climate change solutions hurt Africa

In the trend of large-scale land acquisitions in Sub-Saharan Africa, green investments such as the production of agrofuels and agroforestry developments, are falsely upheld as climate solutions. At the same time the land grab is accompanied by a major water grab that raises serious concerns since the volume of irrigation water needed is already far and beyond what is sustainable for the continent.

These are among the alarming conclusions of two reports released in December by the Canadian-based Oakland and Polaris Institutes. At the same time climate finance practitioners and regulators last week urged South African developers of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects to finalise their applications for registration of such projects with the United Nations during the first quarter of 2012, or face being excluded from the key European carbon credits market.

Projects that do not deliver


How to promote investments that genuinely support local people? (IIED)

Read at : Land Degradation Announcement List <>

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is proud to announce its latest Briefing Paper:

New IIED Briefing Paper

Farms and funds: investment funds in the global land rush
Abbi Buxton, Mark Campanale, Lorenzo Cotula

Investment funds show a growing interest in farmland and agriculture. They are buying up land and agribusinesses in developing countries with the expectation of high long-term returns linked to rising land prices, growing populations and increasing demand for food. While the media has reported extensively on the involvement of these funds in the global land rush, the mechanics remain little understood by the broader public. What is the interest and what is driving it? Who are the players and what processes do their investment decisions go through? What are the impacts in recipient countries? And what action can be taken to promote investments that genuinely support local people?

Kate Wilson
Publications & Marketing Manager
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International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
80-86 Gray’s Inn Road
United Kingdom

Foreign land acquisitions (IRIN News)

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WEST AFRICA: The downside of foreign land acquisitions

Population growth and rising consumption by a minority of people around the world are fuelling global land acquisitions and Africa is a “prime target”, says the International Land Coalition.

“The best land is often being targeted for acquisition. It is often irrigable, with proximity to infrastructure, making conflict with existing land users more likely,” says a 14 December 2011 report.

Africa accounts for 134 million hectares of reported land deals. Worldwide, between 2000 and 2010, deals under consideration or negotiation amounted to 203 million hectares, the Coalition says.

The rush for farmland was triggered primarily by the 2007-08 world food price crisis. While agricultural production was the main aim, the Coalition says, mineral extraction, industry, tourism and forest conversion were “significant contributors” to the rush. The Sojourner Project suggests newly-independent Southern Sudan is the latest addition to the land acquisition list.

In West Africa such acquisitions, which critics describe as land grabbing, are having a telling impact on the River Niger, the subregion’s largest river and the continent’s third largest after the Nile and the Congo.

From the Fouta Djallon Massif in Guinea (West Africa’s water tower), the 4,200km river snakes its way through Mali, Niger, Benin and empties into the Nigerian sector of the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem in the Atlantic Ocean. Millions of people along its route and tributaries depend on the river for their farms, cattle, fishing and other needs. Yet the River Niger is already overfished, is becoming polluted and is affected by dam construction and oil production.

Mali worst affected

Of all the countries through which the River Niger flows the segment in Mali is the most negatively affected by land acquisition irrigation deals, which must be authorized by the Office du Niger. Mali accounts for the river’s entire inland delta, an area set for agro-industrial farming. The aim is for the area to become West Africa’s bread basket.


Is it ‘villagisation’ or moving farmers for land grabbing ? (Google / Daily Maverick)

Read at : Google Alert – images of the  Africa Drought

HRW: Ethiopian ‘villagisation’ – outlandish, contrived, wrong


A new report by Human Rights Watch investigates Ethiopia’s “villagisation” programme, hailed by the government as a successful voluntary relocation project, but which HRW claims is seeing farmers moved to accommodate foreign land investors. 

The language of Human Rights Watch reports is designed to impress the failures of humanity without betraying the calm of emotional detachment. At the heart of these reports lie voices cloaked in the anonymity of “a village elder” in Ethiopia.  Angry, desperate and resigned to his powerlessness in the face of repression, he says, “The government is killing our people through starvation and hunger. It is better to attack us in one place than just waiting here together to die. If you attack us, some of us could run and some could survive. But this, we are dying here with our children. Government workers get this salary, but we are just waiting here for death.”

His story is part of a report released on Tuesday, “Waiting Here for Death: Forced Displacement and ‘Villagization’ in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region”, based on data gleaned “from more than 100 interviews” last year in the Gambella region, the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab and Nairobi, Kenya.


Wake-up call for poorer countries (African Agriculture)

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Rush for land a wake-up call for poorer countries

by Claire Provost

Increasing investor demand for land in the global south could spur small farmers to secure control over their land, says a study published by the International Land Coalition.

Population growth, the increasing consumption of a global elite, and an international legal system skewed in favour of large scale investors are fueling a worldwide rush for land that is unfolding faster than previously thought and is likely to continue, according to the largest study of international land deals to date.

Researchers estimate that more than 200m hectares of land – over eight times the size of the UK – have been sold or leased between 2000 and 2010. But although the food price crisis of 2007-08 may have triggered a boom in international land deals, the study argues that a much broader set of factors – linked to population growth and the rise of emerging economies – is raising the prospect of “a new era in the struggle for, and control over, land in many areas of the global south”.


The great Ethiopian land-grab (African Agriculture)

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The great Ethiopian land-grab: feudalism, leninism, neo-liberalism … plus ça change

by René Lefort

Land in Ethiopia is being leased to agro-industry investors on very long terms and below market rates. The beneficiaries have good political connections. But then land has been the play-thing of centralising authoritarians throughout Ethiopia’s recent history.

Ethiopia is the world champion of “land grabbing” – the practice of renting out vast expanses of farmland to local and, in particular, foreign investors. In 2011, 3.5 million hectares were allocated, while the projected figure for 2015 is 7 million hectares, an area twice the size of Belgium.[i] By way of comparison, 12 million hectares are farmed by the same number of smallholders, who make up four-fifths of the Ethiopian workforce.


It is not hard, then, to imagine the anticipated leap forward in agricultural output, especially given that the productivity of these new mechanised farms should be much greater than that of traditional peasant farmers.

Large land acquisitions in developing countries (African Agriculture)

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Study of large land deals warns of threat to poor

The most comprehensive study of large land acquisitions in developing countries to date — published online on December 14 by the International Land Coalition (ILC) — has found more evidence of harm than benefits.

More than 40 organisations collaborated on the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Research Project, which synthesised 28 case studies, thematic studies and regional overviews.

The report — called Land Rights and the Rush for Land: Findings of the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Research Project — also includes the latest data from the ongoing Land Matrix project to monitor large-scale land transactions, and covers a full decade of land deals from 2000-2010. Those deals amount to more than 200 million hectares of land — or eight times the size of the United Kingdom.


Indian companies are taking over agricultural land in African nations (African Agriculture)

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The Indian land grab in Africa

by GOI Monitor

Joining the neo-colonial bandwagon, Indian companies are taking over agricultural land in African nations and exporting produced food at the cost of locals

Indian companies venturing abroad is always regarded as a healthy trend, an indicator of India’s new-found economic status. But little is known about how these companies are flexing their imperalistic muscles in poorer countries, grabbing the land and giving little in return. A report ‘India’s Role in the New Global Farmland Grab’ by researcher Rick Rowden brings forth these atrocities which are shockingly similar to what India used to blame rich western countires for.

Joiing the race with China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, South Korea and the European Union, Indian and Indian-owned companies are acquiring land in Africa at throwaway prices, indulging in enviornmental damange and exporting the food while locals continue to starve. The origin of this unhealthy practice can be traced back to the food crisis of 2008 when rich countries were forced to confront the reality of how fragile the global food scenario can be, especially for those without sufficient cultivable land.


Colonial-style land grab (African Agriculture)

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Africa succumbs to colonial-style land grab

Jonathan Rugman

It is being dubbed the second scramble for Africa: millions of acres of land are being snapped up by companies from Asia and the Middle East, our foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Rugman reports.

Nations like Ethiopia are desperate for the investment. But critics claim it’s at the expense of smallholder farmers – many of whom say they’re being thrown off their land to make way for the large multi-nationals.

Think of drought-stricken Ethiopia and you might not expect to see modern machinery owned by a foreign multinational, cultivating vast farms in one of the poorest countries in the world.

The goal here is simple: to double Ethiopia’s agricultural production and to make it self-sufficient. So that handouts from Britain, America and others are no longer required.


Large concessions of land to investors for agriculture, mining, or logging in Mozambique (AfricaFiles)

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No. 25967: First big land concession in two years, but secrecy continues  — Food and Land


Title: First big land concession in two years, but secrecy continues
Author: Joe Hanlon
Category: Food and Land
Date: 11/23/2011
Source: Mozambique 187 , November 23 2011
Source Website: www.  <>

Summary & Comment: The Mozambique government continues to allocate large concessions of land to investors for agriculture, mining, or logging. These are often international companies from such countries as USA, Sweden, and Norway. Suspicions arise about the kind of deals being made, because the government is reluctant to provide information on many of the deals. JK

First big land concession in two years, but secrecy continues

Tectona Forest of Zambezia was granted 19,540 hectares in Gurue, Namarroi, Milange and Morrumbala districts by the Council of Ministers on 6 October. Land concessions of over 10,000 ha are made only by the CoM, and this is the first large land concession made by the CoM since December 2009. Concessions under 1000 ha are made by provincial governors, and these have continued. Between 1000 ha and 10,000 ha the decision is made by the Minster of Agriculture.  It is believed the no concessions were made in 2010, but that have some have been made this year and they are still secret. We have been pressing the Ministry of Agriculture since August for information, and this has been repeatedly refused.

The Tectona concession is controversial. Tectonia plans to invest $100 mn and grow teak (Tectona grandis) and the native species messassa (Brachystegia spiciformis). It already had 1,007 ha, and says it will create 1000 permanent jobs. Its shareholders are Global Solidarity Forest Fund (GSFF) 59%, Diversified International Timber Holdings – DITH (A US fund believed to be owned by Harvard College) 30%, Diocese of Niassa 10%, and Silvestria Utveckling (a Swedish company) 1%.


Land grabs in Africa and energy policies of rich countries (allAfrica / Pambazuka News)

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Foreign energy policy fuels famine in Africa

Summary & Comment:

Pambazuka News speaks to Oakland Institute about the findings of their latest round of in-depth research into land grabs in Africa, from the role played by the energy policies of rich countries and the World Bank to the dangers of a development agenda that fails to heed the negative social, economic and environmental impacts of industrial agrofuel and agroforestry. J-P

Author: Pambazuka News
Date Written: 8 December 2011
Primary Category: Economic Justice
Document Origin: Pambazuka News, Issue 562
Secondary Category: Food and Land
Source URL:

PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Following your last set of reports, Oakland was looking to understand in greater depth the legal, social and economic implications of land grabs, in particular better data on land availability, better understanding of land deals, and issues around land rights. You have carried out detailed studies on a number of countries in Africa: What do they tell us about common themes related to land acquisitions in these countries that we didn’t already know? And are there any important differences between the countries studied that would inform any response to these deals?


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