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Inter Press Service (IPS) - October 26, 2009.
Stockholm (Sweden) - The 'land rush' across Africa by international
investors should be regulated to protect smallholder farmers from deals
that could leave them landless and hungry.
Farmer organisations, civil society representatives and researchers at a
debate at the European Development Days expressed concern about the
impact of selling or leasing large tracts of land to foreign governments
and companies. They fear it will harm Africa's ability to feed itself by
improving the productivity of its small holder farmers.
The Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) says these land deals
exclude farmers and threaten their livelihoods.
"We have seen land acquisition taking place in Africa and the trend has
been accelerated by the food and energy crisis," said EAFF president
"The victims of land acquisitions depend on agriculture and we are
worried about the acquisition arrangements. Who are the players?
Government to government, private companies and government: it is not
the people and government, and it's not the indigenous private sector.
Our priority is to ensure we have well-negotiated policies to govern land."
Citing 2008 figures from Food and Agriculture Organisation, Kiriro said
Africa is estimated to have in excess of 800 million hectares of
cultivatable land yet only 197 million hectares are being farmed.
"Land acquisition is targeting the proportion of this land (that is) in
government hands and those coming to access this land have a feeling
that there is land we are not able to cultivate ourselves, but the
situation is different. If we had the basic facilities and better
capacity we would cultivate that land," Kiriro said.
He said it was critical that there are checks and balances on land
acquisition to prevent smallholder farmers from losing their
livelihoods. He said in Kenya, for example, farmers had been pushed off
their land in the Tana Delta in Kenya where 40,000 hectares have been
leased to a Qatari investor.
A 2009 study titled "Land grab or development opportunity?" says there
has been a build up of interest in agriculture lands fuelled by a
commodities price boom. International investors have been leasing large
tracts of land over the past 18 months, with a view to growing crops to
export food to or produce biofuels.
The study, jointly produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development
and the International Institute for Environment and Development,
analysed land allocations of 1000 hectares or more between 2004 and 2009
from four countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Mali).
According to the study, about two million hectares of land across the
four countries have been signed over to foreign interests, including a
10,000-hectare project in Mali and a massive 450,000-hectare plantation
for biofuel in Madagascar. IIED director Camilla Toulmin said it is
often high value land that is allocated to investors.
"We have a number of concerns," said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of
GRAIN. "There are clear trends where companies and corporations that
have never been involved in agriculture are now massively starting to
rating to lease or buy land elsewhere."
GRAIN recently compiled a list of 120 corporations from the finance
sector that Hobbelink said were speculating that land, water and
resources are new commodities on which money can be made.
"Yes, we need investment in agriculture, but we need investment in a way
that the majority of farmers in the world are being held (onto) and not
thrown off the land. If we are talking about monoculture and big
plantations, at least for Africa, we are heading in the wrong
direction," Hobbelink noted.
"Do we really want to put the fate of food production and the fate of
agriculture in the world in the hands of these private companies, many
of them being banks?"
Akin Adesina, vice president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in
Africa (AGRA), a partnership to boost productivity of small-scale
farming supported by the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations, said the
sale or lease of African land should be done in a transparent manner.
"The challenges of this so called land rush include the risk of moving
towards large mechanised farms like in Latin America, the Green
Revolution we are talking about in Africa is one that focuses on farmers
and allows them to rapidly raise agriculture productivity and for them
to do so in ways that are environmentally sound. Moving toward large
scale mechanisation of in agriculture in my view will be a mistake."
Participants at the roundtable debate discussed the potential of to
create a win-win situation with land acquisitions by suggesting
involving farmers at the start of negotiations for such deals. There was
also a call for the development and implementation of a global code of
conduct to regulate the land deals.
"There is scope for a code of conduct," said Ishmael Sunga, CEO of the
Southern African Confederation of Agricultural of Agricultural Unions.
"However, it does not make sense to have a code of conduct for 'land
grabbing'. Rather, it should be for foreign investors, both from other
countries in Africa as well as from outside the continent.
"Why should we regulate investment coming from outside Africa only when
some of the deals being made by African investors could equally be bad?"
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Zimbabwe: Mpofu eyes Vice President's post
The Herald (Zimbabwe) - October 26, 2009.
Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) — Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu
yesterday declared his interest in the vacant Vice President's post.
After rumours had linked him to the post for about a month, Minister
Mpofu broke his silence and said people should be allowed to choose the
party's next Vice President.
Minister Mpofu said he was prepared to take the vacant Zanu-PF Vice
President's post if elected by the people.
He becomes the fourth party cadre to openly declare his interest after
Cdes Naison Ndlovu, Cain Mathema and Ambrose Mutinhiri.
National chairman Cde John Nkomo had already been proposed as the
candidate of choice by Bulawayo Province.
Speaking at Zanu-PF election victory celebrations in Nyamandlovu,
Minister Mpofu said those interested in the post should stop campaigning
through the media and let the people decide who they wanted to be their
"Some of the candidates who are vying for the post have never won a ward
in the constituencies. They do not have the support of their wives while
at the same time they want to be elected to be the Vice President of the
"As for me, I'm quiet. I do not speak to anyone but if the people give
me the mandate to be the Vice President I will never let them down, I
will take the post," he said.
Minister Mpofu is also the Member of the House of Assembly for Umguza.
"We are looking at the future of the country. People should be given the
chance to elect an individual who represents the future and not those
who want to benefit by campaigning through the media when they know that
they do not have the support of the people."
Minister Mpofu said the essence of democracy was competition, hence if
given the chance he would show all the people vying for the position
that he represented the people.
"Let those who are interested in the post let the people decide who they
want and see who will oppose me.
"What I know is that when the people are given a chance to choose the
leader they want they do not stand a chance against me," he said.
Minister Mpofu said the people should be given the chance to elect a
leader who would serve their interests.
"If we choose a candidate that does not have the support of the people
who will he be speaking for?
"My record proves that I represent the people of this region.
"I was the only one in the region to be voted (for) by many people,"
said Minister Mpofu.
He castigated those who said the Vice President should be imposed
through party structures.
"The party should not impose the person they want to be the leader. As
for me I'm not
interested in impositions. If the post is given to me by the party I
will not take it but if the people vote for me I will take it," he said.
Minister Mpofu said there was no substitute for democracy.
The post of Vice President and party Second Secretary fell vacant in
August after the death of founding nationalist Cde Joseph Msika.
Since then, Senate President Cde Ndlovu, Bulawayo Metropolitan Governor
Cde Mathema and former Youth Minister and Zipra chief of staff Cde
Mutinhiri have all expressed their interest in the post.
National chairman Cde Nkomo has refused to comment on the issue saying
it would be wrong to do so because one of the provinces had nominated
him and this consequently made him an interested party.