The leasing or buying of farmland by foreign governments by 47X793M

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									                   Land grabbing - the scramble for Africa
              Chido Makunike - Agricultural consultant and exporter, Senegal
              David Hallam - Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Rome
        Raul Montemayor - Federation of Free Farmers Cooperative, The Philippines
        Alexandra Speildoch - Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), USA

Summary
The leasing or buying of farmland by foreign governments and private investors in Africa has
been described as ‘land grabbing’. There are serious concerns about the threat to
smallholder farmers and the environmental impact of intensive agricultural production. But
could it also work to the advantage of developing countries, as a valuable source of
investment? Four experts from Africa, Europe, America and the Philippines offer their views.

Suggested introduction
The food crisis of 2008 shocked the world. Fearing that national food supplies could be at
risk, some countries have begun to look for new ways to feed their people. South Korea
acquired 700,000 hectares of farmland in Sudan, to grow wheat, and then tried to lease an
even larger area in Madagascar to grow maize and palm oil. The collapse of the deal
contributed to a political crisis and became international news.

The leasing or buying of farmland by foreign governments and private investors has been
described as ‘land grabbing’. There are serious concerns about the threat to smallholder
farmers and the environmental impact of intensive agricultural production. But could it also
work to the advantage of developing countries, as a valuable source of investment? Four
experts from Africa, Europe, America and the Philippines offer their views.

TAPE IN        “Land isn’t just a material, economic …
TAPE OUT       … of the investment prospect, to that.”
DURATION       4’03”

Suggested closing announcement
Chido Makunike, an agricultural consultant and exporter based in Senegal, ending that
selection of views on the contentious issue of land grabbing.

For further information
Land grabbing: opportunity or threat? - www.new-ag.info/pov/views.php?a=783
Land grabbing: realising the benefits - www.new-ag.info/developments/devItem.php?a=782

 Making the most of this interview...
 What do your listeners think? Can African countries benefit from land deals without risking
 their food security or environment?




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                   Land grabbing - the scramble for Africa
              Chido Makunike - Agricultural consultant and exporter, Senegal
              David Hallam - Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Rome
        Raul Montemayor - Federation of Free Farmers Cooperative, The Philippines
        Alexandra Speildoch - Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), USA

Transcript
Makunike          Land isn’t just a material, economic resource in Africa, it’s cultural, it’s
                  sentimental, and it’s also political.

Hallam            Well, there are economic, political, social and ethical concerns
                  surrounding these investments. You can imagine a worst-case scenario
                  where you get some wealthy foreign country investing or acquiring land,
                  large areas of land, in a poor, food-insecure, developing country.
                  Imposing a model of agricultural production, which is capital intensive,
                  chemical intensive, perhaps based on imported inputs, perhaps also
                  environmentally damaging. It is easy to see in those situations that the
                  impact is going to be negative.

Makunike          Land was one of the strongest symbols of African dispossession during
                  the colonial era. And during the independence era getting the land back
                  was also one of the strongest symbols of “We are now ruling ourselves
                  again.” And I think that many of today’s large scale agribusiness investors
                  are imperilled because they ignore this.

Montemayor        Governments should give more recognition to their farmers and not pin all
                  their hopes on foreign investors. Farmers are also investors. They may
                  have very little to invest in terms of money, but they have the
                  perseverance, hard work and determination that has allowed them to
                  survive all these years.

Speildoch         What do the countries hope to gain? Well, building infrastructure, new
                  roads and port facilities, access to research and technology, credit for
                  markets where capital is scarce. And ideally, investment would also be
                  used to support existing local food systems and to promote a fair price for
                  local producers. The end result should provide smallholder farmers with
                  more choices, more access and more control.

Makunike          If you, as an American investor based in Washington DC, want to come
                  and invest in my country, I’ll tell you, you are welcome. This investment is
                  needed. I think it’s a good thing – I think I must say this upfront. I think
                  that the problem is the naïve way it is being structured. The failure of the
                  South Korean deal was to me so entirely predictable. How could it have
                  gone any other way? Because what they have done is exactly the same
                  mistake that the colonialists did. The way it was done guaranteed that it
                  was going to be a short term project that would last 50 years or 100 years,
                  whatever it was, but the resentment would build up, until the people that
                  you displaced had enough power to kick you off.

Montemayor        Overseas farmland investments are not the cure to the problems of large
                  masses of small farmers and landless rural workers in Asia. What is
                  needed is for governments to do their homework by building the roads,
                  putting up irrigation, delivering health and education and providing basic



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              infrastructure and services that will allow farmers to farm profitably and
              progress in life.

Hallam        As far as the host countries are concerned, the key there is not so much
              to say no to these investments perhaps, but rather to make sure that the
              policy and legislative framework is in place; to make sure that they
              maximise the benefits and minimise the risks.

Makunike      It’s not enough to go and talk to the minister, or to go and talk to the
              president of the country and make a deal with him. Presidents come and
              go, even in undemocratic countries, one way or the other. So you risk, if
              you do deals in this kind of opaque way that mining and so many other
              things are done – but with land it’s different. When that president goes, or
              when that government goes, you cannot be sure that your investment is
              secure, no matter what title deal you have. These issues transcend those
              things, like we have seen in Zimbabwe, like we are beginning to see in
              South Africa, like we have seen in Madagascar. It’s much more than just a
              legalistic issue, and it’s not enough to limit your due diligence, your
              investigation of the investment prospect, to that. End track.




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