Nelly Bassily | December 22, 2008
In November, the issue of foreign ownership of African farmland captured headlines around the world. At the time, it was reported that a South Korean company, Daewoo Logistics, planned to lease half of Madagascar’s arable land, with the intention of growing maize and palm for palm oil for shipment back to South Korea. (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/11/24/madagascar-half-of-country%E2%80%99s-arable-land-leased-to-south-korea-for-99-years-financial-times-bbc/) It is now unclear whether the land deal between Daewoo and the Malagasy government will proceed. (http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1122-madagascar.html) Whatever the outcome, the proposed deal generated considerable public debate, much of it focusing on the issue of local and global food security. Other examples of African governments offering land to foreign investors have been brought to light.
The following articles shed more light on the Ethiopian land deals and the issue of foreign ownership of African farmland:
-This Arab News interview with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, reprinted in the Ethiopian Review, illustrates how dependence on oil imports may be influencing the Ethiopian government’s decision to lease farmland to Saudi Arabia: http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/3072
-This Reuters news story suggests that Ethiopian reliance on Djibouti’s ports influenced Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles’ decision to give 7,000 hectares of land to Djiboutian President Omar Ismail Guelleh: http://nazret.com/blog/index.php?title=ethiopia_gives_djibouti_s_guelleh_farmla&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1
These articles offer an overview and discussion on the issue of foreign corporations and governments seeking African land:
These articles explore issues related to African land being pursued for biofuel crops:
You may wish to investigate whether your national government has expressed interest in selling or leasing farmland to a foreign company or government. Questions to look at include:
-Who are the potential buyers or lease holders?
-What crops would be grown on the land?
-What would happen to the crop? (For example, would it be exported in raw form? Would any portion of the crop be processed locally? Would part of the crop be sold locally?)
-At what stage are the negotiations?
-If an agreement has been reached or proposed, what are the proposed terms of the agreement?
-What may happen to farmers or herders who live on or use the area?
-Are there any proposed benefits to locals (such as new roads or employment opportunities)?
-Are any groups advocating on behalf of locals in the negotiation process?