Thursday, September 22, 2011

The revolution is still on...

So, according to Oxfam, there is a land rush on in Africa:
It says up to 227m hectares (560m acres) have been sold or leased worldwide since 2001.

Half of all deals that have been verified are in Africa, amounting to an area the size of Germany - 35m hectares, Oxfam says.
The example given for 227 million hectares is the area of the entire of Western Europe. That is, there is an ongoing agrarian revolution, driven by the market. Now, some of that is uprooting some pretty unfair land distributions in any case: but, as some writers, from Charlie onwards have noted, Capitalism is the agrarian revolution. Dissolving peasant economies and turning land over to market use is what capitalism does. Of course, Oxfam wants peasants to stay peasants, whereas what will happen to them is that they will become proletarians - with all that that entails. Given the parlous state of the world economy, some of that entailment is starvation. of course, given the parlous state of the world economy, investment in land seems a very good idea.

The report's abstract says:
Oxfam’s research has revealed that residents regularly lose out to local elites and domestic or foreign investors because they lack the power to claim their rights effectively and to defend and advance their interests.
The report states in its executive summary:
The recent rise in land acquisitions can be explained by the 2007–08 food prices crisis, which led investors and governments to turn their attention towards agriculture after decades of neglect.
Of course, biofuels get a mention, but then, and this will be a fillip to vegetarians:
Across the globe, diets are changing towards more land-intensive products, such as animal proteins (meat, dairy, eggs, and fish) and convenience foods.

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