The benefit of research is incompatible with the objectives of food sovereignty campaigning for the survival of populations, especially rural ones which are most numerous in Africa. Therefore, land grabbing undermines the foundations of food sovereignty.
The African continent, which has alone a quarter of the world fertile land, for 41% of land transactions, a total number of 1515 transactions worldwide, according to a recent report by the NGO ActionAid International, dating from late May 2014. “Since 2000, more than 1,600 large-scale transactions were documented, with a total area of 60 million hectares,” argued the NGO said that “as it is likely many of acquisitions of medium and large remain to this day neither documented nor quantified “. The report of some twenty pages, entitled “Raid on land: how the world opens the way for land grabbing by companies”, reveals in fact the extent of this phenomenon which threatens not only the survival of millions of people worldwide, but also ecosystems, forests and animal species endangered.
The NGO is enormously interested in Africa because the continent has become the new attraction of multinational corporations, pension funds and large agri-food groups that have acquired, with the complicity of local governments millions of hectares of arable land.
States have also started to buy fertile land to meet their food needs and produce biofuels. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India are often cited in reports of these NGOs have also identified the major powers like the United States, certain Member States of the European Union (France, Germany, Great Britain , Netherlands), and in recent years China wants to have its share in Africa to meet its local demand. Sub-Saharan Africa with high political instability and safe area, grabbing the little fertile land was made by the authorities have deprived thousands of farmers of their main survival resource. The land seizure was facilitated by no acts of possessions that these farmers have not been able to establish, in an area where the property is managed by tribal leaders. what relationships between land grabbing and food sovereignty?
Food sovereignty is a concept developed by La Via Campesina in 1996 as an alternative to neoliberal policies and industrial production model. It is the right of peoples, states or unions of States to define their agricultural and food policies without outside intervention, with all the national actors involved in the food issue.
Food sovereignty includes:
- The focus on local agricultural production to feed the people, access of peasants (ne) s and “landless” on land, water, seeds, and credit. Hence the need for land reforms, the fight against GMOs, for free access to seeds;
- The right of peasant (not) s to produce food and the right of consumers to be able to decide what they consume;
- Agricultural prices linked to production costs: this is possible provided that the States or Unions of States are entitled to tax imports at low prices, and are committed to a sustainable farm production, and mastered the production of the domestic market to avoid structural surpluses;
- Public participation in the choice of agricultural policies;
- Recognition of the rights of peasants who play a major role in agricultural production and food. (La Via Campesina, Porto Alegre, 2003)
All components of food sovereignty listed above are challenged by land grabbing, because “grabbed land” are written primarily for industrial agriculture, whether international or national ones buyers. The following examples demonstrate the:
- In Cameroon, in 2006, IKO a subsidiary of Shaanxi Land Reclamation General Corporation (also known as Shaanxi State Farm), has signed an investment agreement of US $ 120 million with the Government of Cameroon, who has given the rice farm Nanga Eboko and a 99-year lease on 10,000 hectares: 2,000 to Nanga Eboko (near the rice farm) and 4,000 ha in the neighboring district of Ndjoré. The company began testing for rice and corn, and also plans to grow cassava. Meanwhile, industrial plantations of oil palm are installed by Bolloré to produce palm oil.
- In Guinea, the US company Guinea Farm Lands Inc (FLGI now Farmlands of Africa) controls more than 100,000 hectares for the production of corn and soybeans for export or production of agrofuel. British investors (AIMI) help finance the deal. In addition, FLGI is responsible, on behalf of the government, prospecting of 1.5 million hectares for the granting of leases to other investors. Against what FLGI receive a 15% commission on sales.
- In Ivory Coast, SIFCA, owns 47,000 hectares of palm plantations and sugar cane, in 2007 Wilmar and Olam (transnational agribusiness Singapore) have created a joint venture, Nauvu to take a 27% stake in SIFCA , the largest sugar cane producer and palm oil from Ivory Coast. The Billon family owns the majority of the company’s capital; but all parties intend to use SIFCA as a base for expanding their oil palm plantations in West Africa.
- In Sierra Leone in 2010: Addax, a Swiss firm, took control of 10,000 hectares to produce sugar for ethanol in 2013. In 2011, Sofcin, a subsidiary of the French group Bolloré leases 12,500 ha for production palm oil. Vietnamese companies are preparing to embark on major rice production projects and rubber. In 2012 the Chinese capital will also be associated. From 2011, a range of European development banks (Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium) are involved in the project. A participant from Sierra Leone to the Ouidah workshop (February 2012), where we grew rice for Sierra Leoneans feeding time today is cultivated sugar cane to produce the ethanol. In that country, FLG trying to acquire 11,900 hectares to the west of the Tai River to produce large-scale rice.
- In Senegal, Saudi Arabia grows rice for export to Saudi Arabia, and an Italian firm produces biofuel for export to Europe. “The proposal does not give the names of Saudi investors or Senegalese. Pressed by repeated requests from GRAIN, the project coordinator, Amadou Kiffa Gueye, special advisor to the Minister of Mines, Industry, Agro-industry and SMEs, has just said that the Saudi royal family was involved in the project, as well as wealthy men Senegalese businessman. He also said that it was the Senegalese government had charged to develop . project proposal, but at the request of Saudi investors “Foras is involved in a major project to rice production and is also putting in place a poultry farming project vertically integrated near Dakar; this farm is expected to produce 4.8 million chickens per year. Foras is the investment arm of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); its main shareholders are the Islamic Development Bank and several conglomerates in the Gulf region, including Sheikh Saleh Kamel and Dallah Al Barakah Group, the Saudi Bin Laden Group, the National Investment Company of Kuwait and Nasser Kharafi, the 48th man richest in the world and owner of the Americana Group.
- In Mali, Libya and Saudi Arabia grow rice for export, and is cultivated sunflower and jatropha to produce biofuel. – (Libya): In May 2008, the Malian government and the Libyan Gaddafi government signed an investment agreement, giving Malibya, a subsidiary of the Libyan African Investment Portfolio sovereign Libya fund a renewable 50-year lease on 100,000 hectares of land in the Office du Niger. The land was given free Malibya against the promise to develop it in order to make irrigated crops. Malibya also received unlimited access to water, the tariffs for small users. In 2009, Malibya finished an irrigation canal 40 kilometers to the hybrid rice production, but the project was suspended, with the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011. In January 2012, representatives of the new Libyan government, provisional National Council (NTC), said they would maintain the “good” investments in Mali and continue agricultural projects in Africa, making no reference in Sudan and countries’ close to Libya “. – (Saudi Arabia) Foras has completed a pilot study on 5,000 hectares achieved in the framework of a long-term lease in the Office du Niger. Foras now plans to expand to 50,000 to 100,000 hectares, the first stage of a larger project for the production of rice on 700,000 hectares in various African countries.
- In Congo, South African groups grow rice, corn and soybeans, part of which is intended for raising poultry. “Congo Agriculture” is a company created by commercial farmers in South Africa, with the aim of establishing large-scale farms in Congo – Brazzaville. The company has obtained 80,000 hectares of government with a lease of 30 years, 48,000 of which are in the district of Malolo and were divided into 30 farms that are available to South African farmers participating in the operation. The company has close ties with AgriSA, the largest union of commercial farmers in South Africa. In December 2010, AFP reported that the government of Congo – Brazzaville signed an agreement with Atama Plantations, a Malaysian company, granting concessions totaling 470,000 hectares in the regions of Cuvette (north) and Sangha (north – west). Atama says it wants to develop oil palm plantations on 180,000 hectares of these concessions.
- Democratic Republic of Congo, cultivated oil palm for the production of Biodiesel.
- In Gabon, foreign investors grow rice for export in the Gulf countries and oil palm plantations ensuring the production of palm oil for export for biodiesel production in Singapore.
- In Benin, the Chinese cultivate one hand, vegetables and corn for consumption in China, according bodea Simon (Administrative Secretary of Synergie Paysanne), and secondly, they grow sugar cane for the production of sugar for export in China. The China National Complete Import and Export Group Corporation (COMPLANT) functioned as a foreign aid office for China until 1993; it now trades on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and its main shareholder is the State Development & Investment Corporation, the largest holding company owned by the Chinese government. In 2010, a subsidiary of COMPLANT, Hua Lien International announced its intention to establish a collaboration between COMPLANT and the China-Africa Development Fund (5 billion US dollars) to build an ethanol production in various countries African. The three companies plan to launch their collaboration in Benin and spread to other countries in the coming years. This collaboration will build on the many recent investments COMPLANT in the production of sugar cane and cassava, a plantation of 18,000 ha in Jamaica, the planting of 4,800 hectares of sugar cane and cassava in Benin, a plantation and a 1,320 hectare sugar cane factory in Sierra Leone; COMPLANT also announced in 2006 plans to expand its land in Sierra Leone to 8.100 ha for there to start the cultivation of cassava.
One thing is clear
Most often, investors are working discreetly, if not in the greatest secrecy, because the topic is politically and socially sensitive. Therefore, it is not always easy to have information relating to it, especially at local and national levels. The NGO Nature Tropicale and Synergie Paysanne union paid the price with the Chinese and Kuwaiti hoarders in Benin. Indeed, just a few months, they have refused to receive the first, during a film shoot on the issue in this country.
Of the 416 cases of land grabbing we identified 228 cases are in Africa. So,
- Some want to protect the financial flows and the agricultural model they perpetuate, making contracts and agreements “win-win” for both parties. If the monopolists earn their business, earned by small farmers deprived of land that nourished their ancestors, grandparents and parents, and fed them so far?
- Others believe that there is nothing positive to nationals in these land grabbing cases. Therefore, they mobilize resistance to stop this trend and highlight food sovereignty as a real solution to the food crisis.
Table 1: Percentage of agricultural land already under the control of foreign interests for food production in some countries in West and Central Africa.
Rate by Country
area rented or sold to investors
foreigners for food production
Source: PAN TV