Tuesday 23 January 2018

Rich 'land grabbers' buying up huge swathes of Africa

Damien McElroy

LAND purchases by rich nations in the developing world are swallowing up as much as a third of some African states, undercutting efforts to raise food production, Oxfam has warned.

The charity demanded an immediate moratorium on World Bank funding for the acquisition of land, saying its figures showed an area the size of London was being sold to foreign investors every six days.

The World Bank has tripled its lending to land deals over the past decade to more than $8bn (€6.2bn).

"The World Bank is in a unique position to help stop land grabs becoming one of the biggest scandals of the century," said Barbara Stocking, the Oxfam chief executive.

"Investment should be good news for developing countries not lead to greater poverty, hunger and hardship."

Land investment in Africa has grown by a factor of two in some years as food prices rise and Gulf states join Asian tiger economies in trying to secure food and energy supplies through direct investment.

Liberia, a wartorn and impoverished West African country, has sold more than 30pc of its entire land mass in the past five years.

Oxfam also plans to push for global rules setting limits on the scope of acquisitions when it chairs the G8 group of nations next year.

Two-thirds of the land acquired by rich nation investors over the past decade is in Africa, the continent which has the greatest food needs. And there is an alarming trend to grow biofuels on the acquired land.

In other cases, countries have negotiated the right to export all production, even if a famine strikes the host country. (© Daily Telegraph)

Irish Independent

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