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Old 04-06-2016, 08:23 AM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
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I have watched various documentaries on land grabs in modern Africa recently, it is really amazing that various African countries all but sell huge parts of their land (in the case of Liberia already about half of the land) to the Chinese, Malaysians etc. Often it happens via lease contracts, so they say they are not selling their countries out. But the duration of those contracts is often between 50 and 125 years, so at the end of the day it amounts to the same thing. Many Africans today and even of the next few generations will not see the land return into their own countries' hands. And I doubt they would recognize it by then. Just a few years after the beginning of such lease contracts usually the land has been completely cleared of its original vegetation (and people) with the help of huge machines and the foreigners start to plant stuff that is of no use to locals, but gets exported whereby the profits go to the companies. Palm oil seems to be a major driving force behind those modern land grabs. So they grow those plants on giant plantations extending to the horizon. Palm oil is used in all kinds of products and demand is huge, driving up profits of suppliers.
Other uses of the land are more perverse, namely producing bio fuels for the West so that naive Europeans, Americans etc. can drive their stupid cars with a clearer conscience in terms of the environment - at home

Often those deals are done via big corporations that act as proxies for certain countries that simply try to hide their efforts to expand their territories in a way that doesn't appear as aggressive as outright colonialism.

One reason for that mess - and it is a mess, usually local subsistence farmers get expelled from the land they have been working on for many generations, which in turn leads to poverty, flight to the cities etc. - is that in some African countries citizens do not own the land they are working on, instead it belongs to the government, which can simply sell it and expel farmers and their families, which happens all the time now. (It also happens in Cambodia etc., but this thread is about Africa).

Oftentimes African politicians all the way up to the president are corrupt and cash in big time from such deals. In other cases African leaders even mean well, but they simply seem to be utterly naive and uninformed, falling for the lies and empty promises of Asians, Americans, and Europeans - again. Such deals are hardly ever win-win situations, 99% of foreign companies going to Africa do so for egoistic reasons, especially big multinationals. They have no interest in helping Africa, but simply want to exploit it, looking at it as a kind of giant resource reservoir in the hands of poor people who can't defend themselves.


So, how could one stop that crazy development? Shouldn't the UN step in? After all, it is a global problem, that causes massive human rights violations. Maybe all those lease contracts should be declared null and void.
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Old 04-06-2016, 09:20 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
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What are you trying to say? That Africans are really juveniles and can't make decisions on their own so the UN has to intervene and be their guardians? Please.

It's called the free market. They're getting paid for it. No one is coming in with guns pointed to anyone's heads. If there's corruption within these countries' political systems, that's for them to deal with, themselves.

The scenario you've laid out--big multinational companies exploiting local resources for profits--is hardly a new thing and in case you haven't noticed, occurs all over the world. Not that I'm condoning it but would you support the UN stepping in for the rest of the world as well? Yep, that's what I thought.
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Old 04-06-2016, 09:48 AM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
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Not juveniles, but indeed I get the impression that they don't really know what is going on. They seem utterly naive, they don't seem to understand that foreigners forking out cash or promising stuff are most likely their enemies who would kill them for their resources if they knew they would get away with it.

They interviewed some farmers (from Uganda if I remember correctly) who actually did own their little land, but they were molested by foreigners promising things until they finally gave in. Those people barely spoke English and were functional illiterates, in no condition to understand the legal ramifications of such contracts.

Indeed, I think the UN is responsible for protecting peoples who can't protect themselves, be it from foreigners, be it from their corrupt government. I suggested the UN because it is a global problem, just like terrorism, climate change, etc. There is something bad happening and this time we can't say we didn't know...
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Old 04-07-2016, 12:53 AM
 
972 posts, read 738,772 times
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Is the west still really imperialistic like it use to be? I seems to be Asia and rich middle eastern countries are becoming more imperialistic/ power hungry while the west (white countries) seem to not be currently? Do you guys agree or not and why? Thanks!
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Old 04-07-2016, 07:02 AM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
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Indeed, rich Arab states are also pretty active, many of them are worried about their water supplies as their populations increase. Their life style is way too unsustainable for desert regions. So they try to at least plant more food in other countries in order to waste less of their own water on irrigation. They do turn saltwater into drinking water, but it is a very inefficient and costly process.

As I said, in other cases countries or regions even mean well, but cause problems anyway. For instance the EU wanted to help Cambodia so they made some deal to facilitate palm oil exports, doing away with the usual import fees. But that has lead to the eviction of farmers from their land in Cambodia as big companies and the government simply took that land and turned it into giant plantations. Fighting those crimes is dangerous in Cambodia, they can simply make you disappear, it is not a democratic country.
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:20 PM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
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The G7's program for food security in Africa seems yet another disguised way to help greedy investors rather than African people...

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition | Global Justice Now

It is the same wrong approach that has already caused massive problems in India, including suicide among farmers, toxic soil and water, diseases, unemployment, etc. The Swedish company Eco-Energy for instance is expelling farmers from their lands in Tanzania.
Alarmed by the damage that program is causing, France already abandoned it.
I hope the other G7 countries will also make a u-turn.
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Old 04-11-2018, 05:31 PM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
4,428 posts, read 1,679,997 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle4321 View Post
Is the west still really imperialistic like it use to be? I seems to be Asia and rich middle eastern countries are becoming more imperialistic/ power hungry while the west (white countries) seem to not be currently? Do you guys agree or not and why? Thanks!

The sovereign nations are not the guilty parties, like they were in the colonial era. These deals are being made with private investors who happen to be citizens of Country X, Y or Z. When Castro overthrew Batista, it was to rid Cuba of private American landlords, not the US government. Like United Fruit in Central America.

Now that it is Asians buying up all the land rights, instead of us good guys, suddenly fingers of shame are pointed.


Having said that, it is also true that government-endorsed global policy is the enabler of a great deal of this.
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Old 04-11-2018, 06:01 PM
 
Location: Tijuana Exurbs
4,000 posts, read 10,449,819 times
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I think the OP skirted the real issue, which is not who is buying the land and what they are planting on it, but instead is that the people living and working the land currently do not have clear title.

When the people living and working on the land have clear title, they will be able to invest in, borrow against, and manage the land the way they see fit. That might be to sell into the world export market, or it might be to produce local food stuffs. Either way, the benefits of these decisions accrue to the local farmers who make the wisest decisions.

Unfortunately, property rights in Africa are not very strong. In places such as in Zimbabwe, the result has been famine.
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Old 04-16-2018, 11:33 AM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
21,421 posts, read 19,318,864 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kettlepot View Post
I think the OP skirted the real issue, which is not who is buying the land and what they are planting on it, but instead is that the people living and working the land currently do not have clear title.

When the people living and working on the land have clear title, they will be able to invest in, borrow against, and manage the land the way they see fit. That might be to sell into the world export market, or it might be to produce local food stuffs. Either way, the benefits of these decisions accrue to the local farmers who make the wisest decisions.

Unfortunately, property rights in Africa are not very strong. In places such as in Zimbabwe, the result has been famine.
According to Wiki agriculture is actually developing in a positive way, away from export-oriented to sustainable, small-scale agriculture.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwe#Agriculture

Either way, land should not be given to foreigners, especially non-Africans, be it directly or indirectly.
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:03 AM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
21,421 posts, read 19,318,864 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waliibginnieiscrackamoder View Post
Of course..Its their land...
Indeed. And I also refer to those that say that because their are no land titles people don't own it. I don't agree with that notion. Just because a culture simply has no history of documented land titles, one can't say, the land doesn't belong to local people and is thus for grabs.
That's basically what settlers did in the Americas, Australia etc. centuries ago when stealing other people's lands.
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