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Pension fund managers, bankers, agribusiness companies, oil-states and multilateral bodies such as the World Bank are some of the entities identified in a recent report by GRAIN as promoters of land grabbing in the Global South.
“Real assets are a real refuge for investors… and gold and farmland are the best assets to be exposed to today and we are doing that in the best way we can”.
This was said by Eduardo Elsztain, from Argentina, head of Cresud, a company that has acquired over 628,000 hectares of farmlands in Argentina, most of them focused in the production of GM soy and cattle. In addition, Cresud has acquired 17,000 hectares in Bolivia, 142,000 in Paraguay and 175,000 in Brazil, mainly for soy production. The current agricultural estates of Cresud add up to 1 million hectares, i.e a third of the territory of the Netherlands, for instance.
With this example, it is possible to deny the statements by the FAO itself, among others, who reject the existence of the “land grabbing” phenomenon in Latin America.
The information about this and many other business actors, multilateral institutions and states who benefit from land grabbing is part of the most recent work by GRAIN.
The report (attached in PDF format) is an unprecedented summary about this problem, giving names, last names, and modus operandi of the main actors of this phenomenon, driven by the crisis of capitalism and the reduction of farmland at global level.
GRAIN’s report defines itself as: “A look at some of the people pursuing or supporting large farmland grabs around the world”. “We think it might help the debate over land grabs to pull back the curtain a little on who these people are".
And it adds: “It’s an emblematic set of land grabbers, not a comprehensive one. Knowing who’s involved can also help us in pressuring the land grabbers to stop”.
An “exemplary” case
The role of the World Bank as a promoter of the land grabbing phenomenon is described in GRAIN’s document, pointing out the difficulties in terms of public image faced by this multilateral organization since the explosion of the economic crisis in 2007/08 with the subsequent explosion of the price of food and the huge increase of the number of hungry people at world level, reaching unprecedented levels, beyond those during "world wars".
However, according to GRAIN, “the Bank stuck to its old tune: more export agriculture, more foreign investment. At the height of the food crisis, a global farmland grab erupted. All the foreign investment that the Bank had for decades promised would be the nemesis of poverty and food insecurity was now flooding into countries all over the planet. But the glaring predicament for the Bank was that the money was chasing farmland occupied by peasants and pastoralists, to produce food crops for export from countries already coping with severe food insecurity”.
And among the “friends” of the WB, the report highlights the governments in general, but especially those who accumulate more decision power: the US, Japan, China, Arab Emirates, Germany, France and India.
To follow this issue at global level, visit: http://farmlandgrab.org/. This website includes the multiple expressions of land grabbing in different parts of the world, from Brazil to Mindanao, or from Poland to Uganda.
Photo: Cover of GRAIN’s report.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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