The scale is astounding: parcels the size of small countries are being gobbled up across the plains of Africa, the paddy fields of Southeast Asia, the jungles of South America, and the prairies of Eastern Europe. In The Land Grabbers, veteran journalist Fred Pearce presents a first-of-its-kind expose that reveals the scale and the human costs of the land grab, one of the most profound ethical, environmental, and economic issues facing the globalized world in the twenty-first century. It will affect who eats and who does not, who gets richer and who gets poorer, and whether agrarian societies can exist outside corporate control. It is the new battle over who owns the planet.
|Published (Last):||2 August 2013|
|PDF File Size:||14.25 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||11.81 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
The scale is astounding: parcels the size of small countries are being gobbled up across the plains of Africa, the paddy fields of Southeast Asia, the jungles of South America, and the prairies of Eastern Europe. In The Land Grabbers, veteran journalist Fred Pearce presents a first-of-its-kind expose that reveals the scale and the human costs of the land grab, one of the most profound ethical, environmental, and economic issues facing the globalized world in the twenty-first century.
It will affect who eats and who does not, who gets richer and who gets poorer, and whether agrarian societies can exist outside corporate control. It is the new battle over who owns the planet.
Anyone who cares where her next meal is coming from should read it. Gulf sheikhs, Chinese state corporations, Wall Street speculators, Russian oligarchs, Indian microchip billionaires, doomsday fatalists, Midwestern missionaries, and City of London hedge-fund slickers are scouring the globe for cheap land to feed their people, their bottom lines, or their consciences.
Chunks of land the size of small countries are exchanging hands for a song. So who precisely are the buyers--and whose land is being taken over? I spent a year circling the globe to find out, interviewing the grabbers and the grabbed on every continent, from Jeddah, London, and Chicago to Sumatra, Paraguay, and Liberia. Almost everyone seems to be a land grabber today. My cast of characters includes super-financier George Soros and super-industrialist Richard Branson; Colombian narco-terrorists and Italian heiresses; an Irish dairy farmer in the Saudi desert and the recent commander of British land forces, now tilling soil in Guinea; gun runners and the couple who sold the world high fashion with the Patagonia brand before buying the wild lands of the same name.
The Kidmans and Windsors and Gettys and Khashoggis and Oppenheimers are in there too--and most likely you, or at least your pension fund, have a slice of the action. Some regard the term land grabbers as pejorative. But it is widely used, and the subject of academic conferences. And that is the purpose of this book.
Others look forward to making a killing as the storm hits. Many believe they will do good along the way. But I have been appalled at the damage that often results from their actions. Their hosts share much of the blame for what goes wrong. After years of neglecting their agriculture, African governments are suddenly keen to invest.
Their desire for a quick fix to deep-seated problems makes foreign investors, with their big promises, attractive. Many governments ask few questions when investors come calling. There is often an unspoken cultural cringe, in which foreign is always considered best. The investment, ministers believe, will inevitably bring food and jobs to their people. But such easy assurances rarely work out, for reasons that are social, environmental, economic, geopolitical--and sometimes a toxic mix of all four.
In , the World Bank came up with a figure of million acres. The Global Land Project, an international research network, hazarded million acres. The Land Deal Politics Initiative, another network of researchers that helped organize a conference in Britain on land grabbing in mid, totted up million acres.
Within weeks, Oxfam, an aid agency, published its own estimate of million acres. The truth is nobody knows. There is no central register; there is little national transparency. Some of the largest deals were done in secret and unknown even to the most diligent NGOs, while other deals have attracted headlines but have never come to fruition.
I have tried to disentangle the truth about individual projects, but I have not attempted any global figure. I hope I have reported fairly. I did find new mega-farms with thoughtful managers who make sure to offer secure jobs, food, and basic social services to their workers and their families. I found investors with a long-term view. This is not about ideology. It is about what works.
But what works has to do with human rights and access to natural resources, as well as maximizing tons per acre. It is important to know what agribusiness can and cannot deliver. But it is equally important to be angered by the appalling injustice of people having their ancestral land pulled from beneath their feet.
Is this the inevitable cost of feeding the world and protecting its surviving wildlife? Or is this a new colonialism that should be confronted--the moment when localism and communalism fight back? I began and ended my journey round the world in the cockpit of the greatest land grab in history--the unfenced plains of Africa, where governments, corporations, and peasants seem set to fight for the soil of their continent.
I started with a man called Omot.
The Land Grabbers: The New Fight over Who Owns the Earth
Indigenous and native people living on the land for decades but with no legal title are forced to vacate, whether physically or through monetary and other incentives, by rich individuals and corporations, with the aid of national governments, in the name of development. The modus operandi seems so standard that after reading about it happening in various countries mostly African it ceases to provoke much of a response in me. In this sense, the book lacks The story is the same the world over. In this sense, the book lacks flavor. The place and individuals involved keep changing but the story and outcome is depressingly similar.
Similar authors to follow
An Ethiopian family in the small town of Abobo in Gambella province. Fred Pearce visited the area as part of his investigation into land grabbing. Over the last few years, I became aware of this hidden revolution taking place around the world: the buying up of vast swaths of land by foreign entities from beneath its occupiers. Then speculators and investors started piling in on the back of that. The net result is that poor farmers and cattle herders across the world are being thrown off their land. Land grabbing is having more of an impact on the lives of poor people than climate change.