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Africa: ‘Land Rush’ (Land Grab) as Threats to Food Security Intensify #allAfrica.com http://ht.ly/1Lkox

FOOD AND WATER DRIVE AFRICAN LAND GRAB

by Staff Writers, Seed Daily Nairobi, Kenya (UPI) Apr 29, 2010

Rich Arab states such as Saudi Arabia have bought huge tracts of land across Africa in recent years in a bid to combat global food shortages, water scarcity and desertification and feed their burgeoning populations.

But now the scramble for Africa is intensifying, with investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds, corporations and business tycoons out to grab some of the world’s cheapest land — for profit.

China has leased 6.91 million acres in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the world’s largest oil palm plantation.

South Korea’s Daewoo conglomerate planned to buy 2.9 million acres of Madagascar until the deal collapsed when rioters toppled the Indian Ocean island’s government.

“Philippe Heilberg, CEO of the New York-based investment fund Jarch Capital … has leased between 998,000 and 2.47 million acres in southern Sudan from the warlord Paulino Matip,” Le Monde Diplomatique reported.

“Foreign direct investment in agriculture is the boardroom euphemism for the new land grab and those promoting the grab spin it as a win-win situation.”

It quoted Heilberg as saying, “When food becomes scarce, the investor needs a weak state that does not force him to abide by any rules.”

According to various assessments, up to 123.5 million acres of African land — double the size of Britain — has been snapped up or is being negotiated by governments or wealthy investors. Read the rest of this entry »

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