Sunday, June 19, 2011

Land Grabs, In New Scramble For Africa & Global Food Security Implications

Land Grabs, In New Scramble For Africa & Global Food Security Implications
Author: Paul I. Adujie | June 20, 2011
“Slavery and colonialism came with great benefits to Africa from Europe” Among the “benefits” are, the adoption of Christianity by millions of Africans and the fact that a majority of Africans have become westernized through formal western education and democratic forms of governments. An African on the African continent made these ignorant, naïve, simplistic and dumb comments on the BBC Have Your Say Program which was aired on June 9, 2011. He made these pronouncements so matter-of-fact and in such self-assured manner. He made the proclamations as if these were incontrovertible and sacrosanct.

He repeatedly identified these so-called “benefits” as though Africans are monolithic lots overjoyed with their adoption of Christianity, when in fact, Christianity was forced on the natives as European Christian Missionaries displaced and relegated African religions and spirituality. It is impossible to hear anything more preposterous, outrageous and outlandish on BBC in the aftermath of this gentleman’s advertisement of his blissful ignorance. And yet, there were others on the BBC show who nodded agreement.

There were those who agreed and expressed similar sentiments, such as suggesting that the Land Grabs on the African continent by American and European entities does not have to pass the smell-test, for after all, these lands were laid fallow and not put to productive use by Africans prior to the onsets of these Land Grabs! Africa does have her fair share of buffoons as citizens; One cannot in a million years imagine that a Jew in any part of the world, would argue that Jewish Holocaust was beneficial in some way, perhaps, arguing that in a roundabout way, it brought about the creation of the Jewish State of Israel in 1948?

How can anyone, especially an African on the African continent argue that Slavery and colonialism were beneficial to Africans? Despite the immutable evidence of the horrors, brutalities and inhumanity meted upon Africans, victims of slavery and colonialism, despite this well established public knowledge! It must not be forgotten that the Africans were robbed of human and material resources, culture, religion etc. And yet, there is an African with cognitive abilities who described these sordid African experience as having scintilla of “benefits”? Slavery and colonialism are the twin greatest evils ever perpetrated by some human beings upon others; and it is just incredulous for anyone to suggest that there were benefits! It is an unimaginable incredulity if a Jew were to argue that there were “benefits” in pogroms and Holocaust!

Someone argued that the lands in Africa have been laying unused and laying fallow, and so, it is quite okay for Americans and Europeans companies or entities to snap them up… the equivalents of saying it okay to harvest organs of the poor or saying it is okay for your neighbor to put your kidney up for sale, for after all, you can function with one or that you have not been particularly vigorous or physically active? Or that you have been a lazy person all this while with your two kidneys? Land Grabs are deprivations, through displacements and dislocations of thousands of poor farmers, and no excuses will do. It is the case that Land Grabs are getting worse in Africa.

An opinion piece by this writer regarding Land Grabs by Whites and or foreign farmers on the African continent was published in September 2003 which is the predicate for my invitation to be guest on the BBC Program and I have been guest on several BBC broadcasts in the past, never one quite like June 11, 2011, which left me in utter shock! Then in 2003 when I wrote “Does Nigeria Really Need British Or Any Foreign Farmers?” when the first Land Grabs in Nigeria were taking place, as it is now in 2011, land appropriation and expropriation and the concerns for food security in Africa were my concerns.

In 2003, this writer stated and it bears repeating that, Landlessness is one of the remaining vestiges of colonialism is Southern Africa including, and particularly Zimbabwe! The Boers and their other fellow Europeans grabbed lands in Southern Africa, from Black Natives who previously owned these lands!The land issue has been the core of the racial, political and economic disputes that are raging in Zimbabwe. Land Grabs, racial discrimination and economic disparities are relics of White Supremacy and domination in Africa, particularly, the nations in Southern Africa, which were the last to be decolonized;

Zimbabwe is a case in point, Zimbabwe dramatizes, these vestiges and relics White usurpation of economic, political and civil rights of Blacks; Blacks who were arbitrarily denied of their lands and rights in their backyards in Africa.... But the world has forgotten, and prefers to focus on Mr. Mugabe with all his faults. The genesis of the Zimbabwean land redistribution crises stemmed from Britain neglected or refused to implement the pre-independence Lancaster House London Agreement made with Zimbabwean political leaders, hence the imbroglio between Black and White farmers in Zimbabwe, emanated from British unwillingness to follow through with land redistribution agreements she entered more than twenty years ago!

The Landless Black farmers versus the White farmers, who have all the lands; Lands, which the Blacks, originally owned. Lands which Whites converted arbitrarily and summarily looted and usurped from Blacks, but for Whites themselves. The Guardian Newspapers of London June 8, 2011 published a feature article by John Vidal and Claire Provost “US Universities In Africa 'Land Grab” in which it was reported that “Institutions including Harvard and Vanderbilt reportedly use hedge funds to buy land in deals that may force farmers out” which will result in displacement, dislocation and hunger for millions of Africans!

The Guardian UK reported that “Harvard and other major American universities are working through British hedge funds and European financial speculators to buy or lease vast areas of African farmland in deals, some of which may force many thousands of people off their land, according to a new study.” “Researchers say foreign investors are profiting from "land grabs" that often fail to deliver the promised benefits of jobs and economic development, and can lead to environmental and social problems in the poorest countries in the world. The new report on land acquisitions in seven African countries suggests that Harvard, Vanderbilt and many other US colleges with large endowment funds have invested heavily in African land in the past few years.

Much of the money is said to be channelled through London-based Emergent asset management, which runs one of Africa's largest land acquisition funds, run by former JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs currency dealers”. Researchers at the California-based Oakland revealed that fertile African lands are be snatched and grabbed by American Universities!

Oxfam has expressed similar concerns about food crisis, food insecurity and humanitarian catastrophes which would come about, including the multiplier effects on food prices which is already high and would double soon. Whether these American and European entities are growing cheap food on the African continent for American and European consumers or growing for Bio-Fuels, any such efforts and endeavors which displaces, dislocated and disadvantage the Africans should be condemned by all. It is a case of double whamming in these Land Grabs! The Africans will be displaced, dislocated and the Africans are not the target of or the end results or outcomes from the lands and the Africans will have food insecurity and hunger inflicted upon them or at the very minimum, the conditions of the Africans will be exacerbated by these American and Europeans new scramble for Africa.

Thousands of farmers have already been displaced and dislocated from the farmlands in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania etc and these American and European entities have demonstrated no interests in feeding starving Africans or providing jobs or improving the human conditions on ground according to activists such as Obang Metho of Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia. The Guardian UK writes that “Research by the World Bank and others suggests that nearly 60m hectares – an area the size of France – has been bought or leased by foreign companies in Africa in the past three years.” This is quite clearly an emergency and it should be a matter serious continental and global concerns. Where are the African governments and Public Intellectuals on this all-important existential issue?

"Most of these deals are characterized by a lack of transparency, despite the profound implications posed by the consolidation of control over global food markets and agricultural resources by financial firms" Those who have the land and water resources will have the money and will be calling all the shots in the next decade and in the future. Land and water resources will be the new petroleum, both in a literal and metaphorical sense. American Universities and Hedge Funds are aggressively pursuing and engaging in Land Grabs on the African continent. These entities are motivated by food security and the need to feed Africans or partner with Africans to grow more food for consumption and exports. But instead, this new scramble for Africa, land, water and other resources, is to enable these entities establish cash crops for producing Bio-Fuels and for erecting Wind-Turbines or Wind Farms.

There are also speculations to the effect, that these American and European entities are in these Land Grabs in Africa, where they would have unfettered access to Africa’s water resources and farmlands, where they will be able to escape agriculture and food productions and food processing regulations as applicable in America and Europe. These entities are keenly aware that, there are too many Africans who are still unaware of the continuing vigorous and profound debates regarding Genetically Modified Foods or Genetically Engineered Foods or GNF, GEF and concerns by many scientists of the risks imbued in GNF and irradiation of foods etc. Africa could soon become the new frontier in sundry agricultural and food production and processing experiments.

An agronomy Frankenstein or agricultural, food production and food processing scientific mutations and attendant adverse consequences, could soon be upon the world and as usual, such experiments or scientific accident will begin in Africa, with Africans as the guinea pigs and the perpetrators being American and European entities, the usual suspects? What is the origin of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and HIV? Some have pointed at an African gorilla? While others pointed at a gay man in San Francisco? And yet, others have pointed at a drug or narcotic substance abuser? Or was HIV-AIDS as some say, a result of a medical experiment gone awry?

What disease or pandemic could and would arise or stem from GNF and food manipulations? There are so many unknowns and even reputable scientists are unsure and are wary of the possible risks. Even as the urge and the zeal for profits is motivating and propelling entities which are willing to cut corners and avoid American and European regulations, as they pursue and engage Land Grabs in Africa, which will enable them to practice agriculture, food production and food processing with regulation or outside the prying eyes and purview of America and Europe. Similarly, the race for alternatives to hydrocarbons or petroleum fuels, is resulting in the mad rush for lands, hence the Land Grabs in some African nations, namely Mozambique, Mali, Nigeria, the Sudan, Ethiopia and several others.

The rush for farmlands to produce Ethanol yielding crops is speedily propelling these Agro-Biz, Hedge Fund and Universities in Land Grabs in Africa. Bio-Fuels is the new diamond, gold and petroleum for which the lands in Africa must be ravaged once again by Americans and Europeans for their own benefit, and in a historical pattern which usually have ended to the detriment of Africans and Africa. As it was with cotton, cocoa, rubber, gold, diamond, petroleum. American and Europeans entities are now setting the conditions, the stage and foundation for future food crisis and food insecurity or even humanitarian catastrophes on the African continent, with these mad-rushes for African lands.

There is no fair exchange or fair trade involved, in fact, what is going on right now in these Land Grabs cannot be described as trade or fair and equitable transactions in land, between Americans, Europeans on the one hand, and their African buffoons on the other. Americans and Europeans are currently setting the stage and conditions for extreme hunger, suffering and more hardships for Africans and too many Africans are completely oblivious! It is strongly believed by this writer, that a nation that cannot feed itself, a nation that cannot produce food in its abundance, or relies other nations, to feed itself has its priorities wrong. The former USSR, a former world super power crumbled, in part, due to hunger, as it could not feed itself!

USSR had WMD, Nuclear, atomic and had colonized part of space in orbits, but the USSR always relied on external sources, even on mortal foes, such as the USA was, at the time, to USSR, for grains and other food supplies for her citizens!

It is astonishing that Africans are not reacting sharply and even aggressively to the Land Grabs as a major crisis on the continent; In Nigeria for instance, grazing land for cattle, water rights, land ownership rights are usually the predicate for many communal conflicts. Hence the rather amorphous and spurious definition of citizenship based on the vexing “settler” or “indigene” dichotomies and state of origins etc in these matters of land, water and grazing right. And the land, and water resources arguments is not much different in other parts of Africa, be it Sudan, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ugandan, Cameroon etc.

It is therefore a huge surprise, to learn that most Africans are seemingly looking the other way, as Land Grabbers come from across the Atlantic Ocean to expropriate African lands and without as much as a murmur from Africans who would ordinarily squabble amongst and between fellow Africans for land and water rights or priorities. Clearly, in all of these, Americans and European entities are once again, planting the seeds and setting the conditions and stage for more sufferings and extreme hardship for Africans, Africans who will then receive further image devastation and badgering for being in abject conditions which are being created right now through these egregious Land Grabs in Africa. The implications, ramifications and consequences will soon unfold for the whole world to see!

1. US Universities In Africa 'Land Grab”

2. Hedge funds 'grabbing land' in Africa

3. Does Nigeria Really Need British Or Any Foreign Farmers?

No comments:

Post a Comment