Posts Tagged 'Land grabbing'

Book: “The great food robbery”

The global food system is in profound crisis. Over a billion people suffer from hunger each day, and this number is rising faster than the global population, even though there is more than enough food in the world feed everybody. Climate change, fuelled by a wasteful and polluting industrial food system, threatens to make things much worse. At the same time, corporations are grabbing millions of hectares of farmland and water systems in poor countries, and displacing rural communities.

The great food robbery” looks at the forces driving the world into this crisis. It focuses on corporations and the ways they organise and control food production and distribution and how this destroys local food systems. It provides information and analysis that will enable and inspire people to take the food system back from corporations and put it in the hands of local communities.

This book brings together much of GRAIN’s most recent research and writing and is divided into three sections: agribusiness, the climate crisis and land grabbing.

“This is the final wake-up call to take up the fight for our food future. If the control over food and nutrition security are a concern to you, this is the book.”
– Dr. Hans R. Herren, president, Millennium Institute

“For 20 years, GRAIN has fuelled anti-corporate campaigns with its groundbreaking research and biting analysis. Today, GRAIN is on the leading edge of the fight against land grabs, powered by its signature political clarity and deep roots in the social movements on the front lines. A must read.”
– Naomi Klein, author of “The shock doctrine”

“Everyone should read ‘The great food robbery’ – every citizen, every political leader – to understand how agribusiness, which has created hunger and disease, is now contributing to the biggest resource grab since Columbus.”
– Vandana Shiva, Navdanya and Research Foundation for Science, Technology & Ecology

http://www.grain.org

Globalised food system has failed the poor.

The World Economic Forum’s annual gathering is usually little more than a toast to the benefits of increasing global gross domestic product (GDP), trade and investment. But this year’s meeting comes at a time when economic expansion can no longer be taken for granted and when the uneven benefits of past growth are sparking mass social unrest.

So it is little wonder that doomsday scenarios about the “seeds of dystopia” and the risks of “rolling back the globalisation process” are being dangled in Davos. The world’s economic and political leaders stand warned: do globalisation better, or it will be derailed by the growing legions of the discontented.

Leaders would be unwise to ignore this warning. Discussions in Davos must go beyond how to rectify the imbalances in developed countries’ debt-to-GDP ratios. They must finally pay attention to the wider imbalances that are generated by unfettered globalisation.

Popular anger is directed not only at the bank bail-outs, soaring public debt and bleak employment prospects of recent years. All around the world, people have fallen afoul of a two-track economic process whereby whole industries have been sacrificed to cheaper imports, whole regions have been consigned to abandonment or degradation and whole populations have been frozen out of economic progress.

Nowhere are these imbalances more evident than in the global food system. Globalisation has been wholeheartedly embraced in the service of feeding the world: bilateral and multilateral trade agreements have been put in place to allow food to flow from food-surplus to food-deficit regions.

Yet this model has failed spectacularly. The food bills of the least-developed countries increased five-or sixfold between 1992 and 2008. Imports now account for about 25% of their current food consumption. The more they are told to rely on trade, the less they invest in domestic agriculture. And the less they support their own farmers, the more they have to rely on trade. Countries that fall into this vicious cycle leave their citizens vulnerable to historically volatile prices on international markets, which means increased hunger and insecurity.

Despite the persistent challenges of hunger and food inequality, people are told to embrace more open markets, more trade and more globalised economic processes. Yet open markets do not function as perfectly as many at Davos would like to think. Food moves where purchasing power is highest, not where the need for it is most urgent.

This blind embrace of globalisation from above means missing out on key opportunities that do not fit the dogma. If we were to support developing-world small landholders, who are often the poorest groups, we could enable them to move out of poverty and enable local food production to meet local needs. Trade would complement local production rather than justifying its abandonment.

Trade and investment agreements are the gateways through which globalisation passes on its way to redefining a country’s economic landscape and they are increasing at an impressive pace. There are 6092 bilateral investment agreements in force, with 56 concluded in 2010 alone.

That growth reflects the flawed economic model of the pre-crisis years, which relied on indifference to where growth came from, how sustainable it was and who was benefiting from it. If we are to learn anything from the crisis, it must be to start asking the right questions.

Every new bilateral agreement, every chapter of globalisation, should be measured against new criteria. How sustainable and how evenly spread will the macroeconomic benefits be? Will they facilitate genuine development and provide dignified opportunities to those who become economically displaced?

Globalisation involves winners and losers — that has been established.

But losing out, for a subsistence farmer, means sinking into dire poverty and hunger.

Is the denial of a vulnerable population’s right to food an acceptable byproduct of a trade deal? Should the goal be to multiply the interests of powerful multinationals? Are these the economic processes that we want, or need?

These are the questions leaders must ask at Davos. Globalisation can survive the crisis. But not as we know it. Globalisation must be taken back for the interests of the many. © Project Syndicate, 2012. http://www.project-syndicate.org

 • De Schutter is the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food.

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=163521

Stop Land-Grabbing Now!

Nyeleni, November 19, 2011

We, women and men peasants, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and their allies, who gathered together in Nyeleni from 17-19 November 2011, are determined to defend food sovereignty, the commons and the rights of small scale food providers to natural resources. We supported the Kolongo Appeal from peasant organizations in Mali, who have taken the lead in organising local resistance to the take-over of peasants’ lands in Africa. We came to Nyeleni in response to the Dakar Appeal, which calls for a global alliance against land-grabbing.

In the past three days, peasants, pastoralists and indigenous peoples have come together from across the world for the first time to share with each other their experiences and struggles against land-grabbing. In Mali, the Government has committed to give away 800 thousand hectares of land to business investors. These are lands of communities that have belonged to them for generations, even centuries, while the Malian State has only existed since the 1960-s. This situation is mirrored in many other countries where customary rights are not recognised. Taking away the lands of communities is a violation of both their customary and historical rights.

Secure access to and control over land and natural resources are inextricably linked to the enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and several regional and international human rights conventions, such as the rights to an adequate standard of living, housing, food, health, culture, property and participation. We note with grave concern that states are not meeting their obligations in this regard and putting the interests of business interests above the rights of peoples.

Land-grabbing is a global phenomenon led by local, national and transnational elites and investors, and governments with the aim of controlling the world’s most precious resources. The global financial, food and climate crises have triggered a rush among investors and wealthy governments to acquire and capture land and natural resources, since these are the only “safe havens” left that guarantee secure financial returns. Pension and other investment funds have become powerful actors in land-grabbing, while wars continue to be waged to seize control over natural wealth. The World Bank and regional development banks are facilitating land grabs by promoting corporate-friendly policies and laws, facilitating capital and guarantees for corporate investors, and fostering an extractive, destructive economic development model. The World Bank, IFAD, FAO and UNCTAD have proposed seven principles that legitimise farmland grabbing by corporate and state investors. Led by some of the world’s largest transnational corporations, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) aims to transform smallhold agriculture into industrial agriculture and integrate smallhold farmers to global value chains, greatly increasing their vulnerability to land-loss.

Land-grabbing goes beyond traditional North-South imperialist structures; transnational corporations can be based in the United States, Europe, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea, among others. It is also a crisis in both rural and urban areas. Land is being grabbed in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe for industrial agriculture, mining, infrastructure projects, dams, tourism, conservation parks, industry, urban expansion and military purposes. Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities are being expelled from their territories by armed forces, increasing their vulnerability and in some cases even leading to slavery. Market based, false solutions to climate change are creating more ways to alienate local communities from their lands and natural resources.

Despite the fact that women produce most of the world’s food, and are responsible for family and community well being, existing patriarchal structures continue to dispossess women from the lands that they cultivate and their rights to resources. Since most peasant women do not have secure, legally recognised land rights, they are particularly vulnerable to evictions.

The fight against land-grabbing is a fight against capitalism, neoliberalism and a destructive economic model. Through testimonies from our sisters and brothers in Burkina Faso, Columbia, Guatemala, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda, we learned how land-grabbing threatens small scale, family based farming, nature, the environment and food sovereignty. Land grabbing displaces and dislocates communities, destroys local economies and the social-cultural fabric, and jeopardizes the identities of communities, be they farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, workers, dalits or indigenous peoples. Those who stand up for their rights are beaten, jailed and killed. There is no way to mitigate the impacts of this economic model and the power structures that promote it. Our lands are not for sale or lease.

But we are not defeated. Through organisation, mobilisation and community cohesiveness, we have been able to stop land-grabbing in many places. Furthermore, our societies are recognising that small-scale, family based agriculture and food production is the most socially, economically and environmentally sustainable model of using resources.

Recalling the Dakar Appeal, we reiterate our commitment to resist land-grabbing by all means possible, to support all those who fight land-grabs, and to put pressure on national governments and international institutions to fulfill their obligations to defend and uphold the rights of peoples. Specifically, we commit to:

Organise rural and urban communities against land-grabs in every form.

Strengthen the capacities of our communities and movements to reclaim and defend our rights, lands and resources.

Win and secure the rights of women in our communities to land and natural resources.

Create public awareness about how land grabbing is creating crises for all society.

Build alliances across different sectors, constituencies, regions, and mobilise our societies to stop land-grabbing

Strengthen our movements to achieve and promote food sovereignty and genuine agrarian reform

In order to meet the above commitments, we will develop the following actions:

  • Report back to our communities the deliberations and commitments of this Conference.
  • Institutionalise April 17 as the day of global mobilisation against land-grabbing; also identify additional appropriate dates that can be used for such mobilisations to defend land and the commons.
  • Develop our political arguments to expose and discredit the economic model that spurs land-grabbing, and the various actors and initiatives that promote and legitimise it.
  • Build our own databases about land-grabbing by documenting cases, and gathering the needed information and evidence about processes, actors, impacts, etc.
  • Ensure that communities have the information they need about laws, rights, companies, contracts, etc., so that they can resist more effectively the business investors and governments who try to take their lands and natural resources.
  • Set up early warning systems to alert communities to risks and threats.
  • Establish a Peoples’ Observatory on land-grabbing to facilitate and centralise data gathering, communications, planning actions, advocacy, research and analysis, etc.
  • Strengthen our communities through political and technical training, and restore our pride in being food producers and providers.
  • Secure land and resource rights for women by conscientising our communities and movements, targeted re-distribution of land for women, and other actions make laws and policies responsive to the particular needs of women.
  • Build strong organisational networks and alliances at various levels–local, regional and international–building on the Dakar Appeal and with small-scale food producers/providers at the centre of these alliances.
  • Build alliances with members of pension schemes in order to prevent pension fund managers from investing in projects that result in land grabbing.

Make our leaders abide by the rules set by our communities and compel them to be accountable to us, and our communities and organisations.

  • Develop our own systems of legal aid and liaise with legal and human rights experts.
  • Condemn all forms of violence and criminalisation of our struggles and our mobilizations in defense of our rights.
  • Work for the immediate release of all those jailed as a result of their struggles for their lands and territories, and urgently develop campaigns of solidarity with all those facing conflicts.
  • Build strategic alliances with press and media, so that they report accurately our messages and realities; counter the prejudices spread by the mainstream media about the land struggles in Zimbabwe.
  • Develop and use local media to organise members of our and other communities, and share with them information about land-grabbing.
  • Take our messages and demands to parliaments, governments and international institutions.
  • Identify and target local, national and international spaces for actions, mobilizations and building broad-based societal resistance to land-grabbing.
  • Plan actions that target corporations, (including financial corporations), the World Bank and other multilateral development banks that benefit from, drive and promote land and natural resource grabs.
  • Expand and strengthen our actions to achieve and promote food sovereignty and agrarian reform.
  • Support peoples’ enclosures of their resources through land occupations, occupations of the offices of corporate investors, protests and other actions to reclaim their commons.
  • Demands that our governments fulfill their human rights obligations, immediately stop land and natural resource transfers to business investors, cancel contracts already made, and protect rural and urban communities from ongoing and future land-grabs.

We call all organizations committed to these principles and actions to join our Global Alliance against Land-Grabbing, which we solemnly launch today here in Nyeleni.

Globalise the struggle! Globalise hope!

Dakar Appeal against the land grab.

Sign the Dakar Appeal against the land grab!

Sign the appeal here!


We, farmers organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious organizations, unions and other social movements, gathered in Dakar for the World Social Forum 2011:

Considering that small and family farming, which represent most of the world’s farmers, are best placed to:

  • meet their dietary needs and those of populations, ensuring food security and sovereignty of countries,

  • provide employment to rural populations and maintain economic life in rural areas, key to a balanced territorial development,

  • produce with respect to the environment and to the conservation of natural resources for future generations;

Considering that recent massive land grabs targeting tens of millions of acres for the benefit of private interests or third states – whether for reasons of food, energy, mining, environment, tourism, speculation or geopolitics – violate human rights by depriving local, indigenous, peasants, pastoralists and fisher communities of their livelihoods, by restricting their access to natural resources or by removing their freedom to produce as they wish, and exacerbate the inequalities of women in access and control of land;
Considering that investors and complicit governments threaten the right to food of rural populations, that they condemned them to suffer rampant unemployment and rural exodus, that they exacerbate poverty and conflicts and contribute to the loss of agricultural knowledge and skills and cultural identities ;
Considering also that the land and the respect of human rights are firstly under the jurisdiction of national parliaments and governments, and they bear the greatest share of responsibility for these land grabs;

We call on parliaments and national governments
to immediately cease all massive land grabs current or future and return the plundered land. We order the government to stop oppressing and criminalizing the movements of struggle for land and to release activists detained. We demand that national governments implement an effective framework for the recognition and regulation of land rights for users through consultation with all stakeholders. This requires putting an end to corruption and cronyism, which invalidates any attempt of shared land management.


We demand that governments, the Regional Unions of States, FAO and other national and international institutions
immediately implement the commitments that were made at the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) of 2006, namely securing land rights of users, the revival of agrarian reform process based on a fair access to natural resources and rural development for the welfare of all. We ask that the elaboration process of the FAO Guidelines on Governance of Land and Natural Resources be strengthened, and that they are based on Human Rights as defined in the various charters and covenants – these rights being effective only if binding legal instruments are implemented at the national and international level to impose on the states compliance with their obligations. Moreover, each state has to be held responsible for the impact of its policies or activities of its companies in the countries targeted by the investments. Similarly, we must reaffirm the supremacy of Human Rights over international trade and finance regimes, which are sources of speculation on natural resources and agricultural goods.

Meanwhile, we urge the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to definitively reject the World Bank principles for responsible agricultural investment (RAI), which are illegitimate and inadequate to address the phenomenon, and to include the commitments of the ICARRD as well as the conclusions of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) in its Global Framework for Action.

We demand that states, regional organizations and international institutions
guarantee people’s right to land and support family farming and agro-ecology. Appropriate agricultural policies should consider all different types of producers (indigenous peoples, pastoralists, artisanal fishermen, peasants, agrarian reform beneficiaries) and answer specifically to the needs of women and youth.


Finally,
we invite people and civil society organisations everywhere to support – by all human, media, legal, financial or popular means possible – all those who fight against land grabs and to put pressure on national governments and international institutions to fulfil their obligations towards the rights of people.



We all have a duty to resist and to support the people who are fighting for their dignity!

La Via Campesina
Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers. We are an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent of any political, economic, or other type of affiliation. Born in 1993, La Via Campesina now gathers about 150 organisations in 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

International Operational Secretariat:
Jln. Mampang Prapatan XIV no 5 Jakarta Selatan, Jakarta 12790 Indonesia
Tel/fax: +62-21-7991890/+62-21-7993426
Email: viacampesina@viacampesina.org

Stop the global land grab.

“NGOs don’t mobilise people, desperation mobilises people,” said a Cambodian land activist as he related the experience of Boeung Kak villagers who were driven off their land by their own government to make way for corporate profiteering.

Such stories were abundant from all corners of the world this week at the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal. The forum, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, attracted representatives from civil society organisations, social movements and unions from more than 123 countries. Present among them were land rights activists and small farmers, who came to relate and decry the unfettered grabbing of their land.

Land grabbing emerged as the hot topic in this year’s forum. The phenomenon is defined as taking possession of and/or controlling a scale of land for commercial or industrial agricultural production, which is disproportionate in size in comparison to the average land holding in the region. Stories from Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, India, Brazil and Mozambique illustrate that the phenomenon is widespread and the consequences can be dire. Land investments from overseas to secure food supplies and biofuels, speculation and resource extraction are the major drivers of this phenomenon.

Speaking through a megaphone under a plastic tent, peasant leaders from Mali exposed the acquisition of plots in their village by the Libyan government, which built a 40-metre long canal through their community. The canal runs through their traditional pastoral grazing land, cultivated plots and even their cemetery. “Not even our dead could rest in peace,” said the representative from Afrique Verte, a local NGO monitoring the issue.

In a world where the commoditisation of resources has become the norm, it is not surprising that communities are losing their most precious assets to the highest bidder. The spectre of a hungry world is being used to push the agenda for industrial agriculture, but in reality, the majority of the land is used for producing animal feed and agrofuels, as well as land speculation, rather than food crops. A World Bank report on land acquisitions shows that only 37% of this land is used to grow food.

Land has become one of the hottest commodities in the world market, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of the global grabbing took place from 2006 to 2009, according to the World Bank. Buyers prefer land that is easy to acquire and fairly fertile, with access to water resources. As most governments desire foreign direct investment in the elusive pursuit of a narrowly defined “economic growth”, the optimal transaction almost always comes at the expense of small farmers. .

Small family farms are considered economically “inefficient” because their yields feed their communities and not the global market. But family farms actually have higher productivity per hectare than their larger counterparts. Nevertheless, investment in them has been reduced in the last 20 years in favour of industrial farming.

In my home country of Brazil, we have seen the disastrous effects of this large-scale agricultural development model, where half of agricultural production is going to soy and sugar cane, to feed animals and cars, not people. Brazil went from 8% to 35% of global trade in soy in the decade to 2005, but this comes at the cost of deforestation of the Amazon, displacement of traditional communities and a massive rural exodus to urban slums. Yet it is the small farmer that feeds Brazil, with 60% of the food consumed nationally coming from family farms, according to the 2006 Agricultural Census.

Inherent in this predicament is the commodification of land, which stems from the neoliberal development model that drives policymakers. The very architecture of this global governance and economic system must be challenged and reformed. The time has come to reinvest in the kind of agriculture that actually feeds people. The notion that small farmers are unproductive renders them invisible; their contributions to their communities and local development go unrecognised and with that they go on tightening their belts, one notch at a time.

Land rights activists here at the World Social Forum call for global agriculture to work for people, upholding the right to food, supporting land reform that recognises customary rights and invests in small-scale production. We demand that our governments assume their responsibility to us, their constituents. Our needs should drive their actions, not a quixotic quest for corporate investment returns that have little chance of feeding the world’s poor.

• This article was amended on 14 February 2011. In the sixth paragraph, “Africa” was corrected to “sub-Saharan Africa” and “International Food Policy Research Institute” was changed to “World Bank”, which was the source of the statistic. “The 90% increase in soy production in the last decade in Brazil comes at the cost of deforestation” in the eighth paragraph was changed to “Brazil went from 8% to 35% of global trade in soy in the decade to 2005, but this comes at the cost of deforestation”.

Gisele Henriques
Gisele Henriques is a Brazilian activist and the policy and advocacy officer on food and agriculture issues for the international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE. She has worked for more than a decade in support of the rights of farmers in Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mexico and Brazil

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/12/global-land-grab-farmers


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