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Land grabbing deals in Africa have led to a wild west and intensified food insecurity October 29, 2012

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Land deals in  Africa  have led to a wild west that undermined food security – bring on the sheriff, says FAO

“True grit … FAO director general José Graziano da Silva wants major land acquisitions curbed to protect the poor. Amid warnings that land deals are undermining food security, the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)   has compared “land grabs” in Africa to the “wild west”, saying a “sheriff” is needed to restore the rule of  law.  José Graziano da Silva, conceded it was not possible to stop large investors buying land, but said deals in poor countries needed to be brought under control.” The Guardian

Large land deals have accelerated since the surge in food prices in 2007-08, prompting companies and sovereign wealth funds to take steps to guarantee food supplies. But, four to five years on, in Africa only 10-15% of land is actually being developed, claimed Graziano da Silva. Some of these investments have involved the loss of jobs, as labour intensive farming is replaced by mechanised farming or some degree of loss of tenure rights.

Oxfam said the global land rush is out of control and urged the World Bank to freeze its investments in large-scale land acquisitions to send a strong signal to global investors to stop.“In some areas of Africa – Mozambique and South Africa – there is scope for large farms, but this approach is only valid for some grains, where the entire cycle is mechanical,” he said. “But this is not suitable for fruits, vegetables or many other local products. Cassava has nothing to do with mechanized agriculture and efficiency does not mean big scale. It’s the way you combine crops, the use of water you have available. In Africa today, efficiency means better seeds rather than big tractors. The two models have been there forever in agriculture. Sometimes big-scale will provide exports, but local markets are based on small-scale agriculture.”

Graziano da Silva, who was in charge of Brazil’s widely praised “zero hunger” programme, expressed his frustration at the slow pace of creating a global governance structure to deal with land grabs, food security and similar problems. In 2008, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, created a high-level task force on food security on which Graziano Da Silva serves as vice-chairman.

In May, the committee on world food security (CFS), a UN-led group that includes governments, business and civil society, laid the groundwork for a governance structure for food by endorsing voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests.

Tenure has important implications for development, as it is difficult for poor and vulnerable people to overcome hunger and poverty when they have limited and insecure rights to land and other natural resources. But the guidelines took years to negotiate and lack an effective enforcement mechanism because they are voluntary. The CFS is an unwieldy group but has the virtue of inclusivity.

“It took two years to discuss the voluntary guidelines and now we face another two years of negotiations on the principles for responsible agricultural investments,” said Graziano da Silva. “We need to speed up the decison-making process without losing the inclusivity model.”

The FAO director general said he is doing his best to bring about more co-ordination among the different institutions concerned with food security and suggests the FAO act like an executive arm of the CFS, trying to implement its decisions.

Others share his frustrations. Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, acknowledges the importance of the CFS voluntary guidelines, but points out the lack of an effective enforcement mechanism. He argues that governments in sub-Sahran Africa or south-east Asia with poor governance, or tainted by corruption, will continue to seek to attract investors at all costs.

“The international community should accept it has a role in monitoring whether the rights of land users, as stipulated in the guidelines, are effectively respected,” De Schutter told the Guardian. “Since there is no ‘sheriff’ at global level to achieve  this, at the very least, the home states of  investors should exercise due diligence in ensuring that private investors over which they can exercise control fully respect the rights of land users. Export credit agencies, for example, should make their support conditional upon full compliance with the guidelines, and in the future, the rights of investors under investment treaties   made conditional upon the investors acting   in accordance with  the guidelines.”

For Graziano da Silva, the key is the implementation of the voluntary guidelines at country level; he is encouraged by growing public interest and awareness of the issue. He points to Uruguay as an example of a government prepared to stand up to international land investors – “perhaps the best sheriff” on land deals.

“They have very good laws on land acquisitions,” he said, but acknowledged that most countries where land grabbing takes place have little consultation with farmer organisations or have weak or repressive governments.

As for the perennial debate on the respective merits of large and small-scale farming, the FAO boss said Africa had room for both, adding that Brazil had managed it.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/oct/29/land-deals-africa-wild-west-fao

Why poverty:The great land rush in Mali

Copyright © Oromianeconomist 2012 and Oromia Quarterly 1997-2012. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.

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Ethiopia in the Extreme Food Security Risk Index – Map October 22, 2012

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The food security risk index – map
‘The index has been developed by the risk analysis company Maplecroft for governments, NGOs and business to use as a barometer to identify those countries which may be susceptible to famine and societal unrest stemming from food shortages and price fluctuations. This map shows the results of evaluating the availability, access and stability of food supplies in 197 countries, as well as the nutritional and health status of populations,’ The guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/graphic/2012/oct/10/food-security-risk-index-map

As Africa is clearly the most afflicted, with six (Ethiopia, Somalia, S.Sudan, Congo, Chad  and Eritrea) of the seven  states at “extreme risk.” Afghanistan was the only  country outside of Africa at extreme risk ,  Maplecroft inside report. According to FAO’s study, out of Ethiopia’s total Population of 84.7 million the number of undernourished persons  are 34.0 million, and prevalence of undernourishment  is 40 %.

http://www.fao.org/hunger/en/

Copyright © Oromianeconomist 2012 and Oromia Quarterly 1997-2012. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Development without Big Dams: Grass Roots Solutions on Water and Environment October 13, 2012

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Small is both beautiful and productive

‘Mega-dams and massive government-run irrigation projects are not the key to meeting world’s water needs, a growing number of experts now say. For developing nations, the   answer may lie in small-scale measures such as inexpensive water pumps and other readily available equipment. How will the world find the water to feed a growing population in an era of droughts and water shortages?  A growing number of water experts are saying, is to forget big government-run irrigation projects with their mega-dams, giant canals, and often corrupt and indolent management. Farmers across the poor world, they say, are solving their water problems far more effectively with cheap Chinese-made pumps and other low-tech and off-the-shelf equipment. Researchers are concluding that small is both beautiful and productive.’ “Cheap pumps and new ways of powering them are transforming farming and boosting income all over Africa and Asia,”  Meredith Giordano, lead author of a three-year research project.

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/beyond_big_dams_turning_to_grass_roots_solutions_on_water/2571/#.UHiYV2YK5QA.facebook

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/bc-fis081612.php

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How an Economy Grows and Why It Doesn’t October 9, 2012

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http://www.youtube.com/redirect?q=http%3A%2F%2Fvforvoluntary.com%2Fhow-an-economy-grows&session_token=vMriu7hC9ECS_Shm4y9n0dEUDdV8MTM0OTg4MDg5NEAxMzQ5Nzk0NDk0

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