African Land: The New Colonialism

And you thought colonialism was over...

I just read a fascinating article that just about sums up everything that is wrong with globalization. Guardian environmental editor John Vidal recently wrote about how multinational companies, governments and rich individuals are acquiring every piece of available (and unavailable) land in Africa for their own food and biofuel production.

From The Guardian:

The land rush, which is still accelerating, has been triggered by the worldwide food shortages which followed the sharp oil price rises in 2008, growing water shortages and the European Union's insistence that 10% of all transport fuel must come from plant-based biofuels by 2015.

In many areas the deals have led to evictions, civil unrest and complaints of "land grabbing."

This article uses the example of the Ethiopian born, Saudi businessman Sheikh Mohammed al-Amoudi buying up land in his impoverished homeland, but here is the kicker.

Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world with more than 13 million people needing food aid, but paradoxically the government is offering at least 3m hectares of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world's most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations.

According to the article, al-Amoundi's 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of greenhouses could potentially employ 10,000 Ethiopians. My concerns with this and other such agricultural ventures being made by "The Outsiders" are the following:

1. Sure, it is good to give jobs to poor people, but are they getting good jobs? Decent wage? What about worker exploitation?

2. Why isn't any of the food being produce in Africa not being resold in Africa?

3. There seems to be little concern about land rights for the indigenous populations...

4. Isn't anyone worried about the already sensitive problem of food security in Africa? With more biofuel production comes less food for Africans (and the rest of the world).

5. The environmental impact goes beyond water intensive farming. What about the carbon impact of flying food from Africa to another continent?

6.The new land grab doesn't look any different from the original Scramble for Africa?

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