Land grabbing – a killing blow to the fight against poverty in Africa

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APA | 27 October 2010

Land grabbing is expected to be discussed ahead of a meeting this week of African Union agriculture ministers in Malawi\'s capital Lilongwe (Photo: Alamy Images/Steve Morgan)

APA-Dakar (Senegal) Around 45 million hectares of land worldwide was sold to foreign investors – between October 2008 and August 2009, about four times the size of the entire country of Malawi. This represents a ten-fold increase from previous years. Two thirds of the land grabbing is happening in Africa, where there is more food insecurity.

According to a press release issued here by Oxfam, this year in Mozambique a conservative estimate puts the size of investment in total at 10, 9 million hectares. This is more than twice the size of the Netherlands (4.2million ha) or Switzerland (4.1million ha).

“By land grabbing, we mean damaging large scale acquisitions by private investors (companies or countries), with negative impact for the local population’ livelihoods and food security,” explained Lamine Ndiaye, spokesman for Oxfam at the African Union meeting in Malawi. “While the AU guidelines are a step in the right direction, Oxfam remains concerned that land grabbing is not being addressed adequately and with enough of a sense of urgency, at global, regional and national levels.”

“Small scale farmers who might see opportunities in new foreign agricultural investments are finding that investments tend to be poorly regulated and poorly executed,” said Mariam Sow of Enda-Pronat, an Oxfam partner in West Africa.

Governments have the first responsibility in this matter in protecting their own population against bad deals. Recognizing and strengthening all forms of land rights in order to ensure the access of communities to the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend should be the priority. In countries where these rights are not fully guaranteed, it is urgent to support communities in their claim to land rights – that’s what we are doing as Oxfam through our support to social movements, to legal aid and livelihoods organizations and by carrying out research & analysis in relation to local land cases.

“Women, who are the foundation of agricultural activities in most African countries, are already blocked from getting optimal benefits from land in order to live decently. Land grabbing could as well be the “killing blow”, because their land struggles are being exacerbated by land investments which have been removing access to natural resources, displacing local populations and failing to deliver on promised employment for women workers”.

“We hope that the launch of The 2009 African Union Framework and Guidelines for Land Policy in Africa tomorrow in Lilongwe, Malawi ; will not be only an additional piece of paper but will serve as a critical tool to direct private agricultural investment at country level to support food security, and neutralize the risks associated with land grabbing faced by rural African communities.”
Original source: APA
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