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Prince Charles speaks out against land grabs

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Telegraph | 5 November 2011

Prince Charles: 'Why I change my fashion in clothes only once every quarter century'

By Aislinn Laing in Cape Town

The Prince, who is touring South Africa with the Duchess of Cornwall, revealed to two of Africa's top female models on Saturday that just as with his tastes in architecture, he is no fan of change for change's sake.

"I'm a classic, timeless, man," he said during a meeting with Dunnet Dumas, 25, and Lukundo Nalungwe, 24, who both wore thigh-high woollen dresses when they were presented to him. "My fashion sense only changes every 25 years."

The Prince, who has long been an ambassador for the merits of tweed jackets, kilts and tailoring from the likes of Anderson & Sheppard and Benson & Clegg of London's Savile Row, proved his point by wearing a lightweight grey double-breasted suit - a more conservative choice than the white safari suit he had sported earlier in the tour.

He made the comment at an event to promote the wool industry, which he has long been a keen advocate of both abroad and in Britain.

During a speech at Cape Town University, he also made an impassioned plea to end the "tragic" acquisition of large areas of land in Africa by foreign investment firms which use it to grow crops for export to developed nations.
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Speaking about the challenges facing Africa, he said increased demand for land was combining with climate change to place ever increasing pressure on the continent's natural resources.

Singling out hedge funds and foreign speculators who have been buying up land to grow crops such as sugar or biofuels, he said: "Investments of this kind may generate significant profits for those involved, but experience cautions that this kind of investment is full of risks.

"It is profoundly distressing to learn of numerous rural communities being evicted from their ancestral lands in the headwaters and upper floodplains of great rivers like the Nile and Niger to make way for export-oriented estates, whose giant irrigation canals may permanently destroy swamps that are crucial for both the region's biodiversity and traditional ways of life, including those downstream."

Prince Charles warned the practice was making it increasingly hard for African nations to feed themselves and often rural communities were being evicted from their ancestral land to make way for intensive farming.

On Saturday, the royal couple also toured the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, home to over 7,000 southern African plant species, some of them critically endangered by the encroachment of man and the changing climate.

The Prince is no stranger to the work of Kirstenbosch's horticulturalists, having seen their displays at the Chelsea Flower Show, where they have won 31 gold medals and four silvers in the past 26 years.

He and his wife were shown miniature displays of the winning gardens - the latest made up of a sea of fuchsia and coral-coloured Proteas, the cup-shaped national flower.

At the Useful Plants exhibit, they were taken inside an African boma, or hut, to hear about the properties of the helichrysum, a culturally-prized plant which people burn as incense while praying, and the crimson Num Num fruit which cures stomach ailments.

"He certainly knows his plants," resident horticulturalist Phakamani Xaba said of the Prince. "He said his main drive is to convince the pharmaceuticals to invest more in conservation."

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are to end their stay in South Africa with a service at Cape Town Cathedral on Sunday morning, accompanied by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

They will then travel on to Tanzania to join in with the country's 50th Independence Day celebrations.

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