Oct 12, 2011 – Land Acquisition Rate By Foreigners Denies African Farmers of livelihoods – Oxfam
Oxfam GB West Africa says the current trend of acquisition of millions of hectares of agricultural land by foreigners in Africa poses a threat to sustainable livelihood on the continent.
Mr. Mamadou Biteye, the West Africa Regional Director of the organisation, in Abuja on Tuesday, said that foreigners were buying up land in Africa at the expense of agricultural activities.
Biteye made this known at the end of a Media Roundtable for Editors in Abuja, organised by Oxfam, to mark the 2011 World Food Day on October 16.
He said that Oxfam had carried out a research which revealed the sale of millions of hectares
of farmland to foreigners, thereby denying local farmers, especially smallholder farmers, access to land.
“The ongoing land grab is alarming; we have carried out a research which shows that million of hectares have been sold to foreigners.
“This is a paradox because we are seeing a situation whereby most of the food being consumed in the western world will be produced in Africa.
“For example, Kenya exported a lot of food commodities while experiencing food shortages, this development poses a risk for Africa, if nothing is done,” Biteye said.
According to him, the development, coming under the guise of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), is not in the interest of African populations as such contracts deny the owners of the land access for upwards of 50 to 100 years.
He blamed negotiators of such agreements, including African governments, of looking only at the short-term benefits rather than long-term effects.
“The owners of the land need it but have no means to utilise the land. In the bid to attract FDI,
the negotiators look at the short-term gains and they are not looking at contracts which sometimes go beyond 50 years to 100 years.”
The director called for legislation that would give land back to local farmers, noting that smallholder farmers produced between 60 percent and 80 percent of the food consumed in Africa.
Biteye also called for greater investment in agricultural technology, building the capacity of farmers
to make the right decisions and the promotion of modern agriculture in terms of the use of quality seeds, among others.
He disclosed that the objective of the new global “GROW” campaign being implemented by Oxfam and its partners, was to address issues related to the production, consumption and distribution of food as
well as land management, with a view to achieving food justice.
Biteye urged the media to give the issue of agriculture the priority and prominence it deserved by joining the debate on land grabs by foreigners and the sustainable livelihoods of farmers and putting the issues on the front burner. (Daily Times)