Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –
More than 100 million acres of fertile farm land in mostly poor countries was bought up by western multinationals and Asian state companies in secret deals, according to a new study by the World Bank.
The size of the “land grabs” represent a tenfold jump from the previous decade. Two-thirds of these controversial sales were in Africa.
“Large land acquisitions come at a high cost. The veil of secrecy that often surrounds these deals must be lifted,” said World Bank Managing Director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who warned of a “resource curse” that may enrich a small group of the elite, but leaving wreckage behind. Proposals are not properly screened. Poor people who live off the land are forcibly displaced.
Some investors manipulate opinion with a media blitz of false promises. Nothing has been produced so far on almost 80 per cent of the land purchased, notes the report.
Two years ago, Korea’s Daiwoo Logistics attempted to “rent” over 2 million acres of farm land -approximately the size of Connecticut - for $2.50 an acre in Madagascar to plant food and biofuel for export. The 99-year deal set off a firestorm of opposition leading to the downfall of the then president. The lease was later revoked when the new president said: “Madagascar’s land is neither for sale nor for rent.”
The report, Rising Global Interest in Farmland, released last month, calls on developing countries to recognize and respect the resource rights of their people.
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