AFRICAN LAND GRABBING

LAND GRABBING 

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The World Bank claims that land lease deals in developing countries will reduce hunger and poverty and build sustainable agriculture. This is utter bullshit and lies. Sustainable agriculture IS what these corporate land deals replace.

The World Bank is an arm of the Invisible Empire that has financial control over Africa.The Invisible British Empire is adept at what it does because it has been doing this for centuries, starting with the people of the British Isles.

In post medieval England instead of the hut tax, ` peasants` were obliged to pay a tithe to the church and to the aristocratic landlord. The Enclosure Act took away the peoples common land and in Scotland in the 1700s and 1800s the Highland Clearances, known as the `expulsion of the Gaels` destroyed the Gaelic clan system and effected a genocide on the Scottish. They were forcibly removed from their `crofts`, their homes, by the British Empire. Scotland was cleared not just of the inhabitants but of the trees. Sheep farming has kept Scotland denuded ever since, clear and open for grouse and deer hunting, pleasures of the aristocracy and landed gentry.( The UK has remaining 4% of its native woodland. The UK government recently tried selling this and the 9% plantation woodland to private investors.) Whole regions of Scotland were given to cousins of royalty, captains of industry and the successful agents of the Crown. Little has changed. Prince Charles owns most of Wales, Cornwall and Devon, 133 602 acres worth over £1 billion. You may lease land from him.

Clearances%20L_tcm4-568063poverty in the once magnificent Scotland

Over the course of a few hundred years, much of Britain`s land has been privatized-that is to say taken out of some form of collective ownership and management and handed over to individuals. Currently, in our `property-owning democracy`, nearly half the country is owned by 40 000 land millionaires, or 0.06 per cent of the population, while most of the rest of us spend half our working lives paying off the debt on a patch of land barely large enough to accommodate a dwelling and a washing line.” Source: Simon Fairlie, A Short History of Enclosure in Britain,www.thelandmagazine.org.uk.

Hitlerism in the Highlands Oliver BrownThe British Empire conducted a policy of depopulation against its `own` people by starvation, land removal and poverty

83% of Scotland is in private ownership, of that 83%,60% is owned by titled individuals numbering less than 1000.Most enclosure acts were legalized in Britain between 1750 and 1860.Those disposessed of their `tribal` land had no choice other than to join the squalor and poverty of the urban populations. They thus supplied plentiful, cheap labour for the industrial revolution and supplied the critical mass of numbers in the new colonies. This process of land removal is still continuing in Britain as more and more smaller-scale farms become bankrupt and are bought up by wealthy Londoners aspiring to feudal aristocratic status. As they don`t know the difference between a cow and a sheep, the dispossessed farmer gets employment on his previous home. Inner-city Glasgow, Scotland, now has a lower life expectancy than Sierra Leone.

house-472655life in inner-city Glasgow not much different now

The United Kingdom taken as a whole” has 69% of the land owned by less than 1% of the population, or 158 000 families (the so-called cousinhood)”….Source: How we pay for our richest landowners by Jason Cowley ,Newstatesman article from 19 September 2012.The resulting appearance of an overcrowded island is because 90% of the population live on 5% of the land. Not only do these aristocratic landowners manage to evade the tax man and council rates but the tax payer funds the estates through the EU Common Agricultural Policy into which every British household pays annually £245 a year. The Queen received £415 817 for the Royal Farms and £314 811 for the Duchy of Lancaster, while Prince Charles was paid £127 868 for the Duchy of Cornwall. Similarly well-remunerated was Saudi Arabia`s Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who received £273 905 for his 2000 acre Glympton estate in Oxfordshire, allegedly purchased with proceeds of the 1985 al-Yamamah arms deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia. The largest individual UK beneficiary is Sir Richard Sutton, who was paid £1.7 million for his Settled Estates…….” Source: Newstatesman article by Jason Cowley.

In Europe, about 59% of all arable land is owned by between 360,000 and 720,000 people, many of them from aristocratic families. This number is between 0.3% and 0.6% of Europe’s population………………The elite European landowners get at least 59% of the European Union subsidy for `farming` each year, which amounts to $28,000 million. It is an extraordinary situation. The richest people in Europe not only clip their tenants for the rent but the taxpayer as well. Two bites of the cherry and no tax-most of Europe`s agricultural land is untaxed…..They are paid a fortune to keep the most critical economic asset in the capitalist system, land, off the market.” Source: Kevin Cahill, ‘Who Owns The World`, pg.11.  This is how the First World was built.

Oxfam has reported that as much as one third of some African states have been sold as foreign land investment and that 80 million small-scale African farmers have now lost their livelihoods. The majority of foreign land investments are in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Madagascar, DRC and Sudan. According to Oxfam 700 deals in the last decade have sold off an area the size of Kenya and the Cameroon. Liberia has sold off more than three tenths of its land in the last 5 years. In Mozambique between 2007-2009 only 7% of land transferred to agricultural investors grew edible crops. The biofuel industry for squeaky green Europe offers the greatest profit. Biofuel crops include soya, palm oil and sugar cane which produce ethanol. Where edible food crops are being grown the higher percentage goes to Asia and the Middle East.

Almost the entire vast and remote northern provinces of Mozambique are foreign owned plantations of palm oil, pineapples and cane, while between them the Chinese, Danes and the Swedes are clearing out the timber, truckload after truckload of equatorial forest.

In Uganda and Kenya an $11 million dollar project is underway to produce fruit for Minute Maid, a subsidiary of Cocoa Cola. It’s heralded as a humanitarian project but has resulted in 50 000 Kenyan and Ugandan smallholders losing the rights to their land. Source: Susanne Posel, occupycorporatism.com.

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This patronizing, cold charity that puts the face of an impoverished, dark skinned third-world farmer on coffee jars, tins of fruit, bars of chocolate and cartons of oh-so healthy fruit juice is a lying, hypocritical CRIME. So you are paying a coffee farmer two cents more and now he can afford a pair of shoes. How dare they! If they had been paying the non-cartel price for the raw materials for the last fifty years they would not have their giant corporations with profits so gross they can afford cold charity and more importantly there would not be an impoverished, dark-skinned third-world farmer to bestow upon such largesse.

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The Ethiopian government just in the province of Ogaden have leased to agribusiness an area the size of Luxembourg. In Ethiopia as a whole 4 million acres have been leased, that is an area the size of Israel. Not one acre of this land belongs to the democratic western protégé government dictatorship that has leased it. These MEGA FARMS were not previously uninhabited or uncultivated. Two thirds of the population of the Gambela region will have to move, to make way for the mega farms. Move where? Where these land deals have taken place there has been no consultation with the local population. The majority of Ethiopian land has been leased to India, China and Saudi Arabia. In some cases this land has been leased for as little as 99c an acre for 99 years. In some cases where these contracts have been viewed they have been found to be less than five pages long, they do not incorporate compensation or any community commitments or environmental commitments-these contracts are legally, a bloody joke. Local people to whom the land rightfully belongs have not been privy to any part of these deals. The crops grown go for biofuel or to feed foreign populations. It is no surprise therefore that once again Oxfam and other humanitarian agencies are highlighting the current food shortages in Ethiopia which are yet again mostly affecting the ethnic Somali and Muslim people, unpopular with the recently late Meles Zenawi , of the Ogaden region. The government has recently spent on its military budget $100 million on armaments, just as it was doing during the famine in the 1980s when people died of starvation while similar figures were spent on the Eritrean War. For what purpose does the government need 200 new military tanks? Meles Zenawi and his government have been the number one terrorists of the Ethiopian people while they are PAID by the US to support the war on terror in Somalia and Sudan. There have been for years and are as of this very day ritualistic massacres of unwanted ethnic groups in Ethiopia carried out by the Ethiopian military. On Dec 13 2003 424 disarmed Anuak in Gambela were mowed down by government forces. In the following 2 years a further 1500 Anuak were exterminated. Ethiopians given their land and access to their water are more than capable of feeding themselves as this ancient nation has always done. There should be no reason for food shortages in Ethiopia and no reason for food aid, unless by design.

Not one cent of profit from land deals will go to benefitting the people to whom the land rightfully belongs. Profits will go to the foreign investors with grease cash to the pockets of the foreign investor bribed governments.

There are 90 million people in Ethiopia. The ruling elite is of an ethnic group of less than 6% of the population.96% of the military is of one specific ethnic group.

Source : Afrobeatradio.net, Ethiopia Land Grab with guest speaker Obang Metho of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE),www.solidaritymovement.org

An Indian corporation Madhvani Group has leased over 40 000 hectares of communal land in northern Uganda to produce sugar cane, for biofuel.

In Uganda, for example, since the 1990s, government has enabled foreign firms to acquire large areas of natural forests and farm land to foreign investors under the pretext of development. BIDCO Uganda Ltd, a subsidiary of BIDCO Kenya, a Malaysian company acquired over 30 000 hectares of natural forest land in Kalangala Islands in Lake Victoria to establish palm oil plantations with financial support from the World Bank. The project promised jobs to local youth but the jobs have not come. It promised tarmac roads, electricity and health centres but these have not yet been provided. Operations of BIDCO are leading to pollution of water and fisheries by chemical fertilizers; dwindling of common forests on public land accompanied by cultural erosion; food insecurity, spiralling food prices; malnutrition; population displacement and changes to the local climate. Expansion of BIDCOs plantations will lead to the destruction of the legally recommended 200m buffer zone (i.e. from the shore of Lake Victoria to lowest edge of plantations) and a decline in tourism. Malaria infection is on the rise as forest cover and climate change effects proliferate on the island. The Ugandan Government has also attempted to sell Mabira natural forest reserve in central Uganda to foreign investors to establish a sugar cane plantation, but have met stiff resistance from the citizens backed by the international community.” Source: Friends of the Earth International, article by Phil Lee, April 2012.

The documentary produced by Friends of the Earth in conjunction with this afore-mentioned article interviewed a farmer John Muyisa on Kalangala Island. His family have owned land there as far back as anyone can remember. He has farmed his small holding for 35 years. African farmers contrary to western belief do not `scratch a living` from the land they employ a permaculture style method which incorporates mixed woodland in suitable climates with native plants and trees which are harvested along with areas of mixed crops similar to companion planting. This age old system retains habitat for wildlife, conserves water by a network of roots and ground cover and has been Africa`s system of agriculture for thousands of years. This system is SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE. He woke one morning to find bulldozers levelling his land and his  trees being felled. He was told his land now belongs to a company. A security firm have been hired to walk the perimeter and guard the bulldozers. He and his family have been told to go. “Go where? We have nowhere to go. The bull dozers have removed everything, there is now not a plant or tree in sight. Our environment is being degraded. They only think of their profit. We, the islanders are not benefitting from the palms (palm oil), we are just suffering. Kalangala has developed but only for foreigners and not for us. How is it possible for me to develop when my land has been taken and my crops have been cleared? We ask ourselves what can we do. If they want real development let them develop with us so we can be involved in a process and not just sent away.” Source: You Tube, Stop land grabbing! Life, land and justice in Uganda

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Many of Africa’s liberation wars came out of the slavery people were being subject to in the cash crop plantations of the colonialists, namely cotton; in Tanzania the Maji Maji and in Angola the MPLA .The mega farms that are being created will use cheap farm labour. Cheap because these labourers have no alternative now their livelihoods have been removed. This is a return to slavery.