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Land grabbing and the volatility of food prices appear as two elements of the same worrying reality which, according to the High Level Panel of Experts on Food and Nutrition “will not end naturally” unless there is a clear commitment to change the agriculture model, explained Maryam Rahmanian, of CENESTA and also member of the Panel on behalf of the Civil Society, in an interview with Real World Radio in Rome.
“The food crisis and the financial crisis are clearly not solved, we are still in the middle of the crisis”, said the Iranian activist and researcher. Is there a direct link between them?
“Absolutely yes. Both of the reports say it in some way. Although the linkages are sometimes difficult to prove in a way that convinces everybody. With the financial crisis we have an excessive financial capital looking for things to be invested in, and in the case of the food price volatility all of this excess started to become invested in food commodities. So we see that with this phase of capitalism is coming back to the most basic things: land and food”.
She also insisted that the energy crisis is another important element -through the promotion of agrofuels which have began to compete with food products- and the climate crisis.
On food price volatility, the link between the international market and the prices of the domestic market needs further study: “Even when the international prices became stable, the national prices were still unstable and still too high. So this relationship between the national price and the international price is a very complex issue. It is a challenge for civil society to focus and to go deep on this debate on price volatility”.
Maryam mentions as one of the possible causes for this phenomenon the fact that local food stocks have disappeared: “Stocks it is a way of stabilizing the prices. It is something we have all had in our traditions and it is all gone”.
Building policies to recover the stocks may be one of the possible actions to fight price volatility, says Maryam.
Grabbing to speculate
In land grabbing and investments we see the fact that the financial capital has purchased large extensions of land not to produce but to speculate with it.
“The issue of land and investment is also very much a question of the model of production” says Maryam. In fact the HLPE report says 20% of the land that has been grabbed is used to produce food. The rest is mere speculation.
“The way the chain of production and of marketing is organized is not only speculation on land but also a speculation on the contracts that give you the right to produce”.
You can listen to the full interview to the Vicechair of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security on our English website.
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