April 21st 2011 is an international day not mentioned by the mainstream press, because it is the International Day of Peasant Struggles. This includes farmers, pastoralists, and fisherfolk; in other words those who provide the raw material when it comes to our primary food supply – the one’s who do not benefit from the vast profits made on the stock market.
On this, their day, along with human rights and research organizations, they have justifiably criticized the World Bank. They have also criticized the three UN agencies and governments. Ironically, farmland investors, government officials and international civil servants have been meeting in Washington (18 – 20 April 2011) to explore how to put into operation large-scale land acquisitions, and the U.N. Committee on World Food Security located in Rome, will be exploring how to regulate such deals out of fear of a backlash. Using the World Bank-led “Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that Respect Rights, Livelihoods and Resources” formulated by: The World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, they are seeking to legitimize the illegal. It was in April 2010 that over 130 organizations around the world denounced the “Principles…” known as RAI, which was endorsed by Japan and the U.S., and unsupported by China, Egypt, and South Africa. This is tantamount to systemically legalizing neocolonialistic activities. For those who choose to turn a blind eye, they are selling/leasing what they have no right to on ethical grounds.
Land-grab is the purchasing or renting of land for the express purpose of making profit for the investor, although we are told it is to increase food security for the country which the investor is representing. Land will be bought without a the thorough consultation process of the peoples affected, and those that live off/on that land are deprived of that livelihood that in many cases has provided for many hundreds if not thousands of years. The way in which that land is used reduces land fertility, and more often than not increases food insecurity for the people of that region, increases water insecurity for the dwellers of that region, and does not benefit the dwellers of that region in any short or long term period.
India – Approximately 50 million hectares of good agricultural land have fallen into the hands of foreign corporations
Africa – Approximately 63 million hectares of 27 African countries have fallen into the hands of foreign corporations
To protect against land grab in their countries, Argentina, Brazil, and New Zealand have been taking steps. However, Cambodia, Ghana and Ethiopia are short-sightedly preventing any opposition from taking place in their countries. The Sudanese have suffered the most, and the people are now no longer willing to allow Khartoum to sell what is theirs – this explains the silence that has permeated the mainstream media as to the horrors that still continue in Sudan. Where profits in food production mount to 3 – 5%, the profits for investors amounts to 20+% who will also not pay taxes to the countries in which they are located! It is commodifying the production and selling of food further hence why the likelihood of high food prices around the world are bound to continue despite growing global hunger.
Extract from the report: It’s Time to Outlaw Land Grabbing, Not to Make It Responsible!
“Rather than be codified and sanctioned, land grabbing must be immediately stopped and banned. This means that parliaments and national governments should urgently suspend all large-scale land transactions,11 rescind the deals already signed, return the misappropriated lands to communities and outlaw land grabbing. Governments must also stop oppressing and criminalising peoples for defending their lands and release detained activists.
We reiterate the demands made repeatedly by social movements, CSOs and numerous academics to urgently implement actions agreed at the 2006 International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development – the most authoritative and consensual multilateral framework for land and natural resources – as well as the conclusions of the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development. We equally call on the CFS to adopt the FAO Guidelines on the Governance of Land and Natural Resources which are strongly rooted in human rights law so that they can be effectively used to protect and fulfill the rights to land and natural resources of all rural and urban constituencies at national and international levels.
It is obvious to us that a broad consensus has grown over the past several years around the real solutions to hunger, the food crisis and climate chaos, namely that:
– peasant agriculture, family farming, artisanal fishing and indigenous food procurement systems that are based on ecological methods and short marketing circuits are the ways forward toward sustainable, healthy and livelihood-enhancing food systems;
– production, distribution and consumption systems must radically change to fit the carrying capacity of the earth;
– new agricultural policies that respond to the needs, proposals and direct control of small-scale food producers have to replace the current top-down, corporate-led, neoliberal regimes; and
– genuine agrarian and aquatic reform programmes have to be carried through to return land and ecosystems to local communities. This is the path to food sovereignty and justice, quite the opposite of “responsible” land grabbing. And we will continue to push and fight for it with many allies the world over.”
Endorsed on 17 April 2011 by:
▪ Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano (Study Centre for Change in the Mexican Countryside)
▪ FIAN International
▪ Focus on the Global South
▪ Friends of the Earth International
▪ Global Campaign on Agrarian Reform
▪ La Via Campesina
▪ Land Research Action Network
▪ Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Social Network for Justice and Human Rights)
▪ World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP)
▪ World Forum of Fisher Peoples