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Foreign Investment in Farmland - Essay Example

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Foreign Investment in Farmland

The interrelated problems of over-industrialization, decades of poor land use policies, a rising population, scarcity of resources like water, and the skyrocketing prices of food have made governments in the developed parts of the world realise that they cannot feed their peoples with oil and asphalt, and therefore should seek out alternatives. Experts agree that something big is taking place and that there are risks involved to small-holder farmers. These fears revolved mainly but not exclusively around the themes of food insecurity and peasant dispossession. The disagreement is how to read the issue and what solutions are necessary in order to address the dangers. For organizations such as the World Bank, these are birth pains of a new but promising phenomenon, and whatever risks are taking place can be solved by corporate responsibility and efficient governance of land. This means making sure that there is no corruption, that small-holder farmers get to see the contracts to lease their land, that farmers are given titles so that they can transact freely and equally. The World Bank’s opinion on this matter is laid down in its recent publication, Rising Global Interest in Farmland: Can It Yield Sustainable and Equitable Benefits by the World Bank (2010). For another group of experts, however, the phenomenon is something that must be resisted and that it indicates a new form of colonialism. They think that because the corporation wanting to take lands from the developing world are only after profit, it will result in farmers being displaced and dispossessed, and no more lands in the developing world to produce food. The World Bank report, dotted with case studies demonstrating the difficulties of rural peoples as a result of the rising phenomenon of transnational corporations and rich countries taking over their lands, states that the risks attaching to land grabbing actually “correspond to equally large opportunities” (page xxi) as long as access to technology, capital markets, infrastructure and information are granted. It contends that foreign investments have the potential to make positive contributions to rural livelihood and can support small-holder farmers.. It is supported by experts such as Liversage, who contends that “mutually beneficial partnerships between small-holder farmers and private sector investors” (2010: 2) give benefits to both. On the other hand, critics of land grabbing have also stated their case. We turn to an article entitled From Threat to Opportunity: Problems with the Idea of a “Code of Conduct” for Land Grabbing by Saturnino Borras and Jennifer Franco (2010: 1). Borras and Franco argue that global land grabbing is a threat in and of itself, and the institutionalization of corporate responsibility mechanisms only serves to legitimize existing capitalist interests at the expense of the rural poor in the global south. They make the call for a human rights-framed, categorically pro-poor land policy framework that questions current production and consumption patterns. This is similar to the Accumulation by Dispossession that David Harvey (2006: 112) speaks of – “the perpetual search for natural resources of high quality that can be pillaged for surplus and surplus value production has therefore been a key aspct to the historical geography of capitalism.” ...Show more

Summary

Foreign Investment in Farmland: Good or bad? The issue that I have chosen is foreign investment in farmland, or what has been labeled “global land grabbing”. It has also been called outsourcing farming - the leasing or buying of farmlands in developing countries by developed countries for th purpose of agricultural cultivation, whether for biofuels, food production, feedstock production, and the like…
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