Grabbing A
October 29, 2011 8:59 AM   Subscribe

The California—based Oakland Institute released a report earlier this year that documents some of the problems caused by the acquisition of land by foreign firms, including Indian ones, in Ethiopia and other African countries. Putting this global trend of ‘land grab’ under the spotlight, the report highlights the social and environmental costs of this phenomenon that have been largely overlooked by the media. Outlook interviewed Anuradha Mittal, the India—born—and—educated founder and executive president of Oakland Institute, to find out why she thinks India ought to share part of the blame of causing “depravation and destitution” in Ethiopia. text via Outlook

American universities’ trusts (including Harvard’s) are also buying up land, reportedly displacing millions of farmers in the process.

Advocates say the land is being taken from indigenous communities by often violent means, and that land rights are handed over without proper contracts after closed-door deals. A lack of regulations in these countries allows foreign firms to purchase or lease large tracts of arable land, leaving little recourse for displaced residents.

Investors claim to be growing food for the global market that will indirectly alleviate food shortages in Africa, but land is very often used to grow non-edible export commodities such as flowers and biofuels.

Defendants of the deals say local farmers who are employed by foreign firms earn more working the land than they otherwise could, and that infrastructure developments (like clean water facilities or improved irrigation systems) are there to help them.
~ Al Jazeera has a conversation.

Christian Science Monitor highlights the tribes, the archeological and anthropological heritage of the region the most recent Ethiopian sugar deal will displace and disrupt (mentioned in interview above)

African nations are also concerned - Kenya just hosted a regional forum on the problem of foreign land investments resulting in the Nairobi Action Plan.

Note: Local comments in many links are worth reading for a variety of perspectives on this issue.
posted by infini (2 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
At least the Indians are BUYING the land. As I recall, Europeans just took what they wanted without compensation.
posted by Renoroc at 4:08 PM on October 29, 2011

Great post. Sad that this will only be the second comment on it. China is also buying up a lot of African land currently as well. With the booming world population, its not outlandish to speculate that major wars in the future may be fought over food or even water.

Interesting side note: here in Kenya you constantly see signs on undeveloped tracts of property that read something along the lines of "This Land Not For Sale." Too bad its not for reasons related to this post...
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:33 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older How's about that, then? Now then, now then....   |   Google, Wyden, Kirk, and Chaffetz Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments