Dispatches, with host Rick MacInnes-Rae:
...In Sierra Leone, up on the bulge of northwest Africa, prosperity is measured in rice. They even have a saying: if you haven't eaten rice today, you haven't eaten. The slave-traders who went there centuries ago called it "The Rice Coast," and people from Sierra Leone, known as the Gulas, developed the rice plantations in the Carolinas in the colonies.
Back home, rice is grown mostly on small family farms. Before the civil war that decimated Sierra Leone from 1991 until 2002, it produced enough rice to feed itself and to export some. Now, foreign corporations are taking over vast tracts of farm land. Rice is being replaced by sugar cane. To be converted to ethanol for foreign industries and cars.
Any chance these big land deals might hurt Sierra Leone's struggling ability to feed itself again?
Well, not to worry. It's all been arranged, apparently. Even if there are some big questions as to how, as we hear from Canadian journalist Joan Baxter. Joan describes one case of land in transition. Devlin Kuyek presents a more global picture. He's a researcher with the non-profit organisation known as GRAIN, Genetic Resources Action International....
[audio:http://farmlandgrab.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/dispatches_20100114_25828-1.mp3]or download MP3 (12MB)