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Africa gives away their farmland to Arab investors

By Daniel Elombah

I was dismayed when I read that Nigeria is offering to lease farmland to Gulf countries seeking food security and will allow investors to export all of their produce. Gulf Arab countries reliant on food imports have intensified efforts over the last year to buy land in developing nations ranging fromPakistan to the Sudan and Ethiopia.

"Nigeria has the terrain to provide 100 percent of the Gulf's food needs," Enbong Jimie Idiong, chief executive of Global Corp Ltd, told Reuters in an interview.

In what the Financial Times, has termed “rapacious”, rich nations are trotting the globe buying up the natural resources of poor countries. Foreign investors have acquired some 15-20 million hectares of farmland in poorer countries since 2006, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute.

There are more than 100 similar land-grabs globally, since September 2008, where huge tracts of farmland are bought up by wealthy countries as well international corporations.

The Gulf States are in the lead in this new investment. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,Oman, Qatar, controlling between them 45% of the world's oil, are snatching AGRICULTURAL LAND in Egypt, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Zambia, Uganda, but also in Cambodia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia.

South Korea has grabbed a staggering 960,000 hectares in Sudan, the largest country in Africa, where at least 6 other rich countries are said to have secured large land-holding – and precisely where the local population are among the hungriest and least secure in the world.

The Saudis are negotiating 500,000 hectares (not acres) in Tanzania. Companies for the United Arab Emirates have snapped up 324,000 hectares in Pakistan. Highly populated countries like China, South Korea and India have acquired swathes of African farmland to produce food for export.

India recently lowered tariffs for Ethiopian commodities that could enter India after the Indian government lent money to 80 Indian companies to buy 350,000 hectares of farmland in Africa, particularly huge tracts in Kenya, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

Mr Philippe Heilberg, a US businessman, has laid claim to 4,000 sq km of fertile territory in a deal with the family of a notorious warlord in south Sudan where Land is not in short supply.

More than a century ago, Cecil Rhodes extracted mineral rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele and used these to push the frontiers of theBritish Empire beyond the Limpopo River. Some 120 years later, Zimbabwe is still struggling to overcome a legacy of unequal land distribution.

Mr Heilberg, a former Wall Street banker may be no Rhodes – his recent forays into Africa have yet to bear much fruit and include an acrimonious dispute over claims to an oil concession in south Sudan.

His latest venture does, though, have a decidedly 19th-century flavour to it. With the Arabs, UAE and China, he is buying up huge tracts of land in Sudan while the Sudanese are f**lishly fighting over Darfur and now selling off their lands in addition.

The European Union would soon cut off the unsustainable farm subsidies. President Barack Obama also proposes to cut off massive funding to unsustainable subsidies to American farmers.

The result would be a huge demand for foodstuff in the future. The Sudanese, Nigerians and other poor countries that theink they make wise investments today by mortgaging their farmlands would quickly realise that they have short-changed themselves.

They would simply discover that a God-given resource that would constitute a strong bargaining chip has been taken out of their hands of forever.

What is Nigeria's justification for selling their birthrights for a pot of porridge?

Nigeria has around 71.2 million hectares of farmland, of which less that 50 percent is being used, according to data from Global Corp Ltd.

"We need investment to fully utilize this land and we will allow the investors to export back 100 percent of the crop and this will create employment opportunities for people in Nigeria," said Idiong, a consultant with Global Corp.

The land could be leased for up to 30 to 40 years at a cost of around $10,000 per hectare for that period, he said.

"Because of the large size of land we can offer investors as much as they want, and there is no particular kind of crop that can't be grown in Nigeria."

But writing on 'Re-Colonization of Africa through Buying Agricultural Land: Wealthy Nations and Their Multinationals on the Rampage', Akinyi Princess of K'Orinda-Yimbo wrote:

“Africans are being colonised again and this time not with the power of weapons but through Africans themselves selling their continent willingly. The 99- and 999-year lease – a remnant of colonialists – surely cannot f**l anybody. This is equivalent to a full century and/or full millennium which translates into three and a half to thirty-four consecutive generations of Africans”.

He continued: “Africans are selling the one natural resource they can't afford to sell – their land. Especially arable land... The new colonialism is vast in Africa, with the buyers being wealthy countries unable to grow their own food. The Arabs are back fleeing their barren sands to turn Africa into their granary like they did one and a half millennia ago (in Egypt at the time).”

In the upcoming decades, several global developments will create new challenges for mankind. We will be confronted with problems and obstacles such as climate change, population growth beyond earth's capacity, and an increase in demand for energy and water caused by a striving for prosperity and expansion.

Africans should start thinking of themselves as worthwhile human beings too, plan for tomorrow and join forces to keep what is theirs theirs.

"Otherwise Africans might as well follow the butcher meekly to the slaughter house because that's where they're going to end up – in “native reserves” dying off as a people until the few Africans left are put in museums like they were once the main attraction in circuses all over the West in the 18th through early 20th centuries".

Daniel Elombah

Publisher: www.elombah.com

(A Nigerian Perspective on world affairs)


Your Comment
 
 
 

AFRICAN QUEEN | 4/6/2010 11:13:00 PM
AS AFRICANS, WE HAVE TO BE OPTIMISTIC THAT WE CAN HAVE AN ECONOMY THAT FUNCTIONS DEMOCRATICALLY, EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY IF WE ALL PUT OUR MINDS TO MAKE IT WORK TOGETHER. THAT IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD! WE SHOULD STOP WASTING TIME BEING INEFFICIENT AND CORRUPT! INEFFICIENCY AND CORRUPTION ONLY CREATES POVERTY AND MISERY. WE ALL KNOW THAT SO WHY DO WE CONTINUE?



IN MY OBJECTIVE OPINION, MY SUGGESTIONS SHOULD BRING ABOUT A HEALHY PRODUCTIVE AFRICAN ECONOMY:



1. A YOUNG DYNAMIC LEADER MAN OR WOMAN with a democratic vision who will appoint efficient ECONOMIST who can really bring CHANGE. I am tired of all those African leaders who are above 60 years old who take the reins. Where are all the young dynamic African people to lead our great countries of Africa ? Perhaps 40-45yrs old, below fifty years old at most?

2. ACCURATE CENSUS OF THE POPULATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS FOR EVERY GHANAIAN/AFRICAN. Needless to say without an accurate census you would not know which services are needed for your population and you can not cater accurately for their needs. Social security numbers keep track of taxes paid by the citizen, healthcare payments and provision, and will be used for pension payments when one retires.

3. THE ECONOMIST SHOULD FIGURE OUT MONEY GENERATING VENTURES. E.g. Tax systems that are effective and efficient. Tax for anything & everything taxable. Keeping track of the monies to make sure it does not end up in someone's pocket is the challenge. LET US STOP CORRUPTION! IT HAS BEEN DOING MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD FOR DECADES.

We can use the money from taxation to fund a FREE good educational system for children up to 18 yrs old.

4. IMPROVEMENT OF OUR INFRASTUCTURE. WE NEED CIVIL AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS, AND ARCHITECTS TO BUILD A SOLID INFRASTRUCTURE. Building and naming of ALL roads, streets, numbering of ALL properties.

All this P.o boxes as standard for addresses in Ghana/Africa does not work! And does not propel us forward! We have to get used to the idea of ALL CITIZENS having physical addresses as their primary addresses of course p.o boxes can be secondary.

ONE EXAMPLE BELOW OF WHY P.O BOXES DOESN'T WORK!

Drivers licenses ARE NOT a true form of ID if it only has a p.o Box! Drivers with offences just make another p.o box no up and apply in another town. Where is the centralization of information because of computers?

In most western countries you need 2 letters mailed to that address, and a picture ID to apply for a driver's license. If you move to a new town/city you have to change your address within 10 days of arrival. That way the city collects fines from driving offenses because your address and picture is on your license. If you do not pay the fine, the fine keeps increasing, points are put on your license and your license is suspended. If your car insurance expires the insurance co. writes to the Drivers license dept that you do not have car insurance and a letter is sent to your address that your license will be suspended in 3 weeks if you don't renew your car insurance. If you are caught driving with a suspended license they will send you to jail and some one has to pay money to bail you out. All this makes money for the city and therefore the country, and the money can be used for developing the roads! A lot of uncollected fines is the result of the pot holes and untarred roads in Africa !

5. FREE EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN UP TO THE AGE OF 18! It should be against the law for children under 18 years to be hawkers on the streets of any African country during school hours. Teaching these children how to read & write English is the key to the success of any African country. At this stage there are hundreds of different languages spoken in Africa , English as the Lingua Franca should be fine. English is the most widely spoken language in the world. LITERACY AND FURTHER EDUCATION IS KEY TO THE DEVELOMENT OF EVERY SOCIETY! WE SHOULD NOT FORGET WELL EQUIPED LIBRARIES WITH COMPUTERS TOO. IF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE KEPT THEIR LANGUAGE TO THEMSELVES WHERE WOULD AFRICANS BE?

6. ELECTRICITY, WATER, AND SANITATION that is reliable AT ALL TIMES. The civil, electrical engineers and architects should take care of this area. Electricity supply that gets interrupted many times a day is a hindrance to being able to have frozen foods at home, and a hindrance to being able to run a business and an economy efficiently and effectively. Clean water and sanitation is crucial to the health of an African economy. What I mean by clean water and sanitation is by digging up of underground tunnels along all the streets of Africa . These tunnels will carry waste from homes and businesses to a processing plant, the processing plant in turn processes the waste for manure (for agriculture) and provides clean water for consumption. It is better to start digging for a better sanitation system that to stay at point A and say it seems so huge a task to start! What are the alternatives if we do not start digging for a better network of sanitation? I.e. Efficient removal of household, medical, commercial waste and provision of clean water.



7. RELIABLE ROAD/AIR/WATER PUBLIC TRANSPORTAION. Without reliable transportation how can people and goods be moved to generate revenue to improve the economy? All the above creates jobs, tourism and adventure for a thriving economy.

8. EMERGENCY, FIRE AND A POLICE SERVICE that is efficient and reliable and not corrupt. People are dying premature deaths because there is no emergency service available immediately to assist an injured person. I'm sure there have been instances that a fire service was called and there was not enough water to quench the fire!? If majority of the police are corrupt then how can justice prevail?

9. LEGAL SYSTEMS that are effective and efficient! Any economy with a legal system that CANNOT be relied upon most times creates chaos, injustice and it is frustrating. We should have small claims courts, and T.V shows can even be generated which would in turn educate the public about the laws of the land, and may deter people from being offenders. A legal system that works EQUALLY for all creates peace in any economy.

10. CESSATION OF TRIBAL WARS AND TRIBALISM. Why NOT use our energy for the development of our villages, towns and cities instead of using our energy to fight tribal wars? I am tired of tribalism within each country in Africa . Yet when we experience racism in Europe and America and we do not get the job positions we deserve despite being qualified we scream RACISM!! We should head back home and give back to our African countries and stop TRIBALISM!



11. RELIGIOUS NON BIASES. We should stop judging people because of their religion or lack of. If their religious beliefs are not causing any violence to anybody let it be. As far as they are good citizens and are not violent to anybody leave them alone. If you believe in the judgment day then leave it to GOD to deal with them but definitely not you! Israel and Palestine still have not solved their religious differences! How sad is that? Killing each other because of religious differences happened centuries ago and where are we on religion in 2010 There has been sexual abuse cases in ALL religions so why the hypocrisy that one religion is better than the other? Let us respect each others religion.







12. UNIVERSITY GRADUATE OF EVERY PRINCIPLE should be given projects that develop an economy. African universities churn out economists, architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, nurses, teachers, doctors, lawyers, poets, Psychologists to name a few. What do all those graduates do with their skills while they sit around after graduation and the economy of their African country crumbles around them? What sense that does make? Graduates use the skills you have learnt in university and be creative with your knowledge. Graduates get together and contact your president with your ideas! Sometimes if progress is not happening from the top, pressure has to start from the bottom up!



13. MANUFACTURING AND INDUSTRALIZATION. Canning and drying of foods and manufacturing of anything possible like cloths, solar products, cars the list goes on. Anything manufacturable instead of us buying finished products to sell. Any economy that solely depends on imports and lives on credit cards does not prosper because IT IS NOT SELF RELIANT. There is a RECESSION in the WESTERN WORLD at the moment because it imports most of its goods from CHINA ! And was living on credit. Currently there are no jobs in the USA , EUROPE and families and people are homeless and living on the streets. AFRICANS let us NOT depend on CHINA 'S cheap goods! We should rather be manufacturing every product possible to create jobs and development in Africa . Where is our industrial revolution?





14. DEVELOPMENT OF TOWN/CITIES TO BE SELF RELIANT. Towns should be developed enough so they are self sufficient and can sustain themselves by the presence of businesses, schools, interesting parks and tourist attractions. People of those towns, from nearby cities and tourist would visit those attractions therefore generating revenue for those towns. The prosperity of all the towns collectively makes the whole country prosperous. This will develop that town/city, will create jobs and will create less congestion in the capital cities of most African countries. Everybody wants to move to the city because it has more opportunities. This creates unnecessary congestion in the capital, and this can be avoided with good planning.

15. DECENTRALIZATION OF PUBLIC SERVICES. In some countries in Africa one has to go to the capital to process passport applications. Why can not it be processed in the town one lives? Decentralization create jobs in every town and city and develops the economy as a whole. Because of computers decentralization of offices generate centralized information technologically and the system used even becomes more efficient because it can be accessed across the country. We are in the age of technology let us use it efficiently!



HAVING A COMMITTED, RELIABLE, EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE YOUNG AFRICAN PRESIDENT IN EVERY AFRICAN COUNTRY IS KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE AFRICAN CONTINENT.

ONCE WE HAVE MOST OF THE BASICS COVERED ABOVE IN OUR AFRICAN COUNTIRES PROSPERITY WILL FOLLOW BECAUSE WE HAVE MOST OF THE FUNDAMENTALS COVERED AND OUR FOUNDATION IS SOLID. LET US ALL GET CRACKING ON THE TASK TO MAKE AFRICA A PROSPEROUS CONTINENT BY USING THE COMMON SENSE THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US!

AFRICANS LET US GET MORE ORGANIZED, ENTHUSIASTIC, DYNAMIC, SOPHISTICATED, COMMITTED AND DETERMINED TO MAKE THE AFRICAN CONTINENT PROSPEROUS THROUGH HARD WORK. LET US STRIDE WITH PRIDE AND TAKE ON THE TASK OF MAKING THE WHOLE CONTINENT OF AFRICA AN EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE, CORRUPTION FREE CONTINENT!



WHAT WE SEEK IN WESTERN ECONOMIES WE CAN CREATE FOR OURSELVES IN AFRICA IF WE PUT OUR MINDS TO IT. OUR PROSPERITY WOULD BE OUR PRIDE AND NOBODY ELSE'S! WE WOULD BE OWNERS OF OUR PROSPERITY AND OUR ACHIVEMENTS AND THE JOY WOULD NOT BE TEMPORARY BUT PERMANENT FOR MOTHER AFRICA ! LONG LIVE OUR BELOVED MOTHER AFRICA!


IT IS A MIND GAME. YOU WIN IN YOUR MIND, YOU WIN PHYSICALLY
By: STELLA BLAIZE