Contrary to what you may have read in the newspapers or heard on the television news, starvation in Africa and the world food crises is not caused by overpopulation or corrupt governments but corporate greed forcing African farmers to grow and export their crops to rich countries.
On the Inter Press news Service (IPS), Stephen Leahy explains in his article ‘In Corrupt Global Food System, Farmland Is the New Gold’, (January 13, 2011) how a billion people in the world go hungry while corporate companies buy up land in Africa to grow food and agrofuels (energy which is derived from crops) for export to rich consumers in mostly Western countries.
Leahy said that GRAIN, an international non-profit organisation that works with small farmers cited that more than 100 billion dollars has been invested in buying up African farmland by foreign companies and and foreign state-owned companies.
Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute, a U.S.-based policy think tank on social, economic and environmental issues said that while Africans were exporting coffee, cotton and now food to rich countries they themselves were going hungry. Mittal also highlighted the often corrupt deals being struck to purchase African farmland illegally.
Devlin Kuyek of GRAIN said that investors from Saudi Arabia has leased approximately several hundred thousand hectares of land in Ethiopia, Senegal, Mali and other African countries. Some leases are for 99 years in a continent where starvation is still rampant.
In an article by Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International and executive director and founding member of Environmental Rights Action, titled ‘Agrofuels threat looms in Africa’ (March 2009), he said:
“The fact that agrofuels have triggered a new scramble for Africa is no longer news. Millions of hectares are being grabbed with little concern for the poor who are bound to face displacement and for the impact that this will have on family farms and other small-scale farms and food production on the continent.”
“ One case in point is an unfolding transaction in Madagascar. There, we are told, a South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics plans to buy a 99-year lease on over a million hectares for the production of 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and to use another 120,000 hectares for the production of palm oil.”
In another article by Stephen Leahy for IPS titled, ‘Foreigners Lead Global Land Rush’ (May 5, 2009) he said that more than twenty million hectares of African land which is equivalent to 25 percent of all the farmland in the EU now belongs to foreigners.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region in the world today with at least 350 million Africans in this region living on an income of less than one US dollar per day, which is over two thirds of the entire population of the European Union; and it is inhabited by at least 50 percent of the world’s poor.
Despite this rich countries are are securing the future of their population’s food supply by buying up land in Africa which holds massive food production potential.
Sadly, emerging world powers such as China, India, South Korea and the Gulf States have been signing exclusive deals with corrupt African governments worth 20 to 30 billion dollars according to the international Food Policy Research Institute, (IFPRI) repeating the same model of Western colonial dominance in Africa.
Joachim von Braun, director of the IFPRI, told IPS, “There is a major lack of transparency in these land deals.”
The report titled, “‘Land Grabbing’ by Foreign Investors in Developing Countries’, by von Braun and Ruth Meinzen-Dick, shows how one quarter of these deals are for biofuel production, and how countries like China have massive land holdings in Africa. China is currently undergoing deals worth millions of hectares in conflict regions like the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Western corporations are already bleeding the resources of that region for their own benefit.
The Gulf States own the largest foreign ownership of African farmland in the Sudan. According to Leahy, Devlin Kuyek, said that “rich countries are buying poor countries’ soil fertility, water and sun to ship food and fuel back home, in a kind of neo-colonial dynamic.”
Kuyek said that millions of ordinary African farmers and pastoralists who do not have title for their lands could be forced off their land as a result of companies purchasing it.
There is no global food crises and there is no need for Africans to go starving, the cause of these global ills are clear, corporate greed backed by state corruption and greed.
While the mainstream media shows pictures of starving Africans on almost a daily basis they hide the reality of these global ills from public view, aided by many Western charities who remain silent about the African land grab by corporations. After all, famine and starvation keeps charities in business.
The future of humanity and Africans remains unstable as long as ordinary citizens say silent on these global issues and do nothing to address the corruption in their own governments and the corporations that lead them.
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