African Land Interest is Opportunity and Threat

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African Land Interest is Opportunity and Threat
By: Ingi Salgado, Business Report
25 May 2010
 

Foreign companies with funding from the likes of China, the United Arab Emirates and India have been acquiring land across sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia alone has reportedly approved more than 800 foreign-funded agro-projects since 2007.

Africa is viewed as a particularly attractive food basket by water-challenged Middle Eastern nations and China, struggling with soil depletion. These countries aim to create stable supply channels for food and agro-fuels that bypass agro-commodity markets in a climate of rising prices.

Somewhat ironically, the food self-sufficiency of many of the African countries targeted for investment has been eroding.

Last week, the UN Conference on Trade and Development said the continent had lost 20 percent of its capacity to provide food over the past four decades owing to underinvestment. Some pin the blame on the structural adjustment programmes of the World Bank, which required the phasing out of government controls and support mechanisms.

The UN’s various bodies convened a team of experts last year to create a plan of action for dealing with the growing global food crisis. Their proposed solutions hinge on increased productivity, investment in inputs and technology, and lower tariff barriers.

The South African government made it clear it doesn’t think much of some aspects of this proposal when Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said during her budget vote last week that there was room for raising tariffs on agricultural imports.

She also put a figure on the “substantial scope” that still exists under the World Trade Organisation for additional South African government support to farmers: R11 billion in price and production-distorting support, and more than R500 million for export subsidies.

Achieving a consensus view on how to end world hunger is likely to be elusive for as long as tensions exist around the developed world’s support for its agricultural output, let alone the role of industrial agriculture versus small farming.

In the meantime, Africa’s farmers continue to face a credit shortfall, and it is unclear where the bulk of $40bn (R312bn) that the World Bank tells us is needed to restore global food security is going to come from. Developed countries have coughed up just

Themes
• Access to natural resources
• Access to natural resources
• Access to natural resources
• Accompanying social processes
• Accompanying social processes
• Adverse possession
• Advocacy
• Advocacy
• Advocacy
• Architecture
• Architecture
• Armed / ethnic conflict
• Armed / ethnic conflict
• Basic services
• Basic services
• Basic services
• Children
• Children
• Commodification
• Commodification
• Cultural Heritage
• Cultural Heritage
• Demographic manipulation
• Destruction of habitat
• Destruction of habitat
• Destruction of habitat
• Disability
• Disability
• Disaster mitigation
• Disaster mitigation
• Discrimination
• Discrimination
• Discrimination
• Displaced
• Displaced
• Displaced
• Displacement
• Displacement
• Displacement
• Dispossession
• Dispossession
• Dispossession
• Education
• Education
• Elderly
• Elderly
• Energy
• Energy
• Epidemics, diseases
• Epidemics, diseases
• ESC rights
• ESC rights
• ESC rights
• Extraterritorial obligations
• Extraterritorial obligations
• Fact finding mission/field research
• Farmers/Peasants
• Financialization
• Financialization
• Financialization
• Food (rights, sovereignty, crisis)
• Food (rights, sovereignty, crisis)
• Forced evictions
• Forced evictions
• Forced evictions
• Gentrification
• Gentrification
• Health
• Health
• Historic heritage sites
• Historic heritage sites
• Homeless
• Homeless
• Homeless
• Housing crisis
• Housing rights
• Housing rights
• Housing rights
• Human rights
• Human rights
• Human rights
• Immigrants
• Immigrants
• Indigenous peoples
• Indigenous peoples
• Informal settlements
• Internal migrants
• Internal migrants
• Internal migrants
• Land rights
• Landless
• Legal frameworks
• Legal frameworks
• Legal frameworks
• Livelihoods
• Local Governance
• Local Governance
• Local Governance
• Low income
• Norms and standards
• Norms and standards
• Norms and standards
• Property rights
• Public policies
• Public policies
• Public policies
• Public programs and budgets
• Public programs and budgets
• Public programs and budgets
• Refugees
• Refugees
• Religious
• Religious
• Reparations / restitution of rights
• Research
• Research
• Right to the city
• Right to the city
• Security of tenure
• Security of tenure
• Security of tenure
• Stateless
• Stateless
• Subsidies
• Subsidies
• Temporary shelter
• Temporary shelter
• Tenants
• Tenants
• UN system
• UN system
• UN system
• Unemployed
• Unemployed
• Urban planning
• Urban planning
• Water&sanitation
• Water&sanitation
• Women
• Women
• Youth
• Youth

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