[Diggers350] Land acquired over past decade could have produced food for a billion people

Joan Lawson lawson.joan at btinternet.com
Sat Oct 6 08:37:31 BST 2012

It's not just recently aquired land that needs redistribution.  A friend of mine is doing research into the Freemen of Berwick-upon-Tweed who have been acquiring land by varrious shenanigens since 1604!   I pressume other ancient towns have similar groups still fleecing their tenants for their own profit.

Joan Lawson

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Paul Mobbs 
  To: Envlist at yahoogroups.com ; climate_change at foe.co.uk ; diggers350 at yahoogroups.com 
  Sent: Friday, October 05, 2012 12:34 AM
  Subject: [Diggers350] Land acquired over past decade could have produced food for a billion people

  Hash: SHA1

  Please tell me, honestly, is this what "greens" stand for -- or should we 
  instead seek to tackle the lifestyle-system that demands the fuel in the 
  first place rather than substituting one perceived "evil" with another?



  Land acquired over past decade could have produced food for a billion 

  Oxfam calls on World Bank to stop backing foreign investors who acquire 
  land for biofuels that could produce food

  John Vidal, The Guardian, Thursday 4th October 2012

  International land investors and biofuel producers have taken over land 
  around the world that could feed nearly 1 billion people.

  Analysis by Oxfam of several thousand land deals completed in the last 
  decade shows that an area eight times the size of the UK has been left idle 
  by speculators or is being used largely to grow biofuels for US or European 

  In a report, published on Thursday, Oxfam says the global land rush is out 
  of control and urges the World Bank to freeze its investments in large-
  scale land acquisitions to send a strong signal to global investors to stop 
  "land grabs".

  "More than 60% of investments in agricultural land by foreign investors 
  between 2000 and 2010 were in developing countries with serious hunger 
  problems. But two-thirds of those investors plan to export everything they 
  produce on the land. Nearly 60% of the deals have been to grow crops that 
  can be used for biofuels," says the report.

  Very few, if any, of these land investments benefit local people or help to 
  fight hunger, says Oxfam. "Instead, the land is either being left idle, as 
  speculators wait for its value to increase … or it is predominantly used to 
  grow crops for export, often for use as biofuels."

  The bank has tripled its support for land projects to $6bn-$8bn 
  (£3.7bn-£5bn) a year in the last decade, but no data is available on how 
  much goes to acquisitions, or any links between its lending and conflict.

  Since 2008, says Oxfam, 21 formal complaints have been brought by 
  communities affected by World Bank investments, in which they claim that 
  these have violated their land rights.

  Oxfam's chief executive, Barbara Stocking, said: "The rush for land is out 
  of control and some of the world's poorest people are suffering hunger, 
  violence and greater poverty as a result. The World Bank is in a unique 
  position to help stop land grabs becoming one of the biggest scandals of 
  the century."

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

  According to the International Land Coalition, 106m hectares (261m acres) 
  of land in developing countries were acquired by foreign investors between 
  2000 and 2010, sometimes with disastrous results.

  Nearly 30% of Liberia has been handed out in large-scale concessions in the 
  past five years, and up to 63% of all arable land in Cambodia has been 
  passed over to private companies.

  Oxfam dismisses the claim made by the World Bank and others that lots of 
  available land is unused and waiting for development. "It is simply a myth. 
  Most agricultural land deals target quality farmland, particularly land 
  that is irrigated and offers good access to markets.

  "It is clear that much of this land was already being used for small-scale 
  farming, pastoralism and other types of natural resource use."

  A 2010 study by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) – the World Bank's 
  official monitoring and evaluation body – stated that about 30% of bank 
  projects involved involuntary resettlement. The IEG estimated that at any 
  one time, more than 1 million people are affected by involuntary 
  resettlement in active World Bank-financed projects.

  Oxfam urged the UK government, one of the bank's largest shareholders, to 
  use its influence to persuade it to implement the freeze. "It can also play 
  a crucial role as president of the G8 next year by putting food and hunger 
  at the heart of the agenda, and addressing land grabs as part of this. 
  Critically, it can also press the EU to reverse biofuels targets – a key 
  driver of land grabs."

  Stocking said: "The UK should also show leadership in reversing flawed 
  biofuels targets, which are a main driver for land and are diverting food 
  into fuel."

  In a statement to the Guardian, the International Finance Corporation, the 
  World Bank's private lending arm, said: "IFC does not finance land 
  acquisitions for speculative purposes. We invest in productive agricultural 
  and forestry enterprises that can be land intensive to help provide the 
  food and fibre the world needs. IFC has roughly a $4.85bn portfolio of agri-
  related investments. Of that, roughly $600m has a land component. Total 
  land holding related to those investments total 0.7m hectares.

  "Competition for scarce land resources has spurred rising investment in 
  land. This competition can fuel conflict with existing users. Inevitably, 
  bank group involvement in forestry and agriculture is not without risk, 
  particularly given the fact we are operating in imperfect governance 
  environments. But the total number of complaints received gives no 
  explanation as to their validity."

  - -- 


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