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AAN Biofuels and Land Grabbing

Talk on the issue of land grabbing for biofuel production in Africa and whether or not it can be sustainable.
Organised by the University of Sheffield African Affairs Network.


Lionel Cliffe
Emeritus Professor – University of Leeds
Founding editor of the Review of African Political Economy.
'Distinguished Africanist Award' from UK African Studies Association 2002

Dr Elisa Greco,
Research Associate , Institute for Development Policy and Management University of Manchester

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AAN Biofuels and Land Grabbing

  1. 1. Biofuels and Land Grabbing inAfricaAfrican AffairsNetwork7th March
  2. 2. ••
  3. 3. Dr Elisa Greco
  4. 4. Land grabsGeneral overviewReferring to the talk organised by theAfrican Affairs Network - Sheffield7.3.2013Dr Elisa GrecoResearcher, School of Environment andDevelopment, University of Manchester4
  5. 5. What is a land grab?Rapid and large surge ofinternational investment andspeculationin landmostly in poor, non industrial countriesInvestment: creation of largefarms, plantations, monoculturesSpeculation: absentee landlords kicking outpeople and waiting to resell the land, or thestocks attached to it, to third parties5
  6. 6. Whose land? And why bother?1. Expropriation and eviction of local people2. Deforestation: forest lands converted tomonocultures3. Intensification: marginal or extensively usedlands converted to monoculturesMost concerning cases:1. From food production to fuel production2. From production consumed locally –nationally to production for export
  7. 7. The «war on data»• more than 60 countries targeted• hundreds of investment groups and afew governments involvedWorld Bank (2011) : 56 million hectaresleased or sold 2008-9ILC (2011) : 80 m hectares since 2001Land Matrix (2012) : 227 million hectaresClear trend
  8. 8. Why – and why now?Triple crisis : feed – food – fuel1. biofuels2. the 2007/8 food price hike3. financial crisis: speculation on food –land - agricultureInvestments in land aim at securing:- Food- Biofuel- Land in itself- Speculation 8
  9. 9. Change in use for food and feed versususe for biofuel, grains (2005-2012)
  10. 10. What is new?1. capital goes into previously disregardedplaces• risky countries : political instability, corruption• poorly serviced regions : no infrastructures, no easyaccess to markets• environmentally marginal areas2. capital does not come from ex-colonialpowers onlyBRICS -Brazil, Russia, India,China, South Africa+ Middle Eastern governments3. financial capital and speculation 10
  11. 11. What is old?EnclosuresEarliest historical example: British enclosures (1500 - 1700).Colonialism: continued enclosure - land alienation.Natives are dispossessed.Get the land and you’ll control the people = workersDispossessing people of land is an act of class power.Land dispossessionas primitive accumulationWhat happens to the dispossessed?11
  12. 12. They are forced to work for somebody else.But:disconnect between dispossession andproletarianisationIn many poor areas, wage labour is notimmediately available:• people become destitute• they work for increasingly lower wagesfloating population + reserve army oflabour
  13. 13. «Land acquisitions»…1. there is plenty of idle land there!“vacant land” argument1. capital injection = developmenti) infrastructuresii) employmentiii) more market access2. poor countries do not have the necessarycapital to develop rural areas: thereforeForeign Direct Investment (FDI) is a solution13
  14. 14. …or land grabbing1. No land is vacant: eviction and dispossession.Easier when people haven’t formal land titles2. This is business and speculation:i) No investment : speculation and financialisationii) No employment : highly mechanized / importinglabouriii) No infrastructural developmentiv) Endangering local food systems : non food crops/ food export3. National investors : lose out to internationalcapital or become «partners»
  15. 15. Why Africa ?• It’s cheap : labor and land are cheap• It’s easyLaw: citizens are «tenants» of the State ;¾ of land in Africa is not titled«weak governance»Global Land Project (2010) : 62 m hectares,27 countriesOakland Institute (2011) says 50 m ha in 20countries. 15
  16. 16. Just a problem of governance?1. trasparency2. participation: Free, Prior andInformed Consent (FPIC)16
  17. 17. Is land titling a possible solution?Formal land titling often works to theadvantage of stronger social groups• class bias : middle classes• gender bias : male owners• agrarian bias: less evident land usesrural > agrarian- pastoral uses- multiple uses- seasonal uses17
  18. 18. Option 1- International governance1. Responsible AgriculturalInvestments Principles(RAI)Code of Conduct- World Bank- UNCTAD- IFAD and FAOFor whom?Private investors18
  19. 19. Option 2 - International law2. Voluntary Guidelines on theResponsible Governance of Tenure ofLand, Fisheries and Forests in theContext of National Food Security- transnational agrarian movements and NGOs- Committee on Food Security (CFS) – insideFAOFor whom?Governmentsespecially of target countries
  20. 20. Both RAI and the Guidelines are :non- bindingvoluntary= no sanctions against offendersUN Special Rapporteur on the Right toFood :- “trying to discipline the land deals”- “providing policymakers with achecklist to destroy the globalpeasantry responsibly”
  21. 21. Option 3 – simply the economy,stupid!Private companies abandon projects ofplantations and large estates:shift to outgrower schemesandcontract farming
  22. 22. contract farming- vertical integration of small farmers into theglobal food regime- Less risk of failure, less politicsCorporate Social Responsibility:Unilever, Nestlé, Kraft – large agribusiness whichare vertically integratedNot so appealing for the big five of agribusiness:ADM, Cargill, BungeBiofuel companies22
  23. 23. Chose what, and with whom!• Rights and Resources Initiative: convinceprivate investors that land grabbing is risky.Contract farming as positive solution for all.• Oxfam: convince the WB to freeze land deals.Call to freeze International FinancialCorporation’s (IFC)support to «bad investors».• La Via Campesina : fight against investors onthe ground, get them to go away and give up,and refuse to become contract farmers bybuilding concrete alternatives to the corporatefood sytem : short chain,low input farming
  24. 24. Activism can help existing resistance!Or: thinking outside the three options box• Land grab : threat of dispossession of smallrural producers.• Pushing people out of the land :dispossession, involuntary resettlement• Dispossession and proletarianisation :disappearance of small rural producers( «death of the peasantry»)• Many different people are fighting back• 2012: increasing repression against landactivists24
  25. 25. Global food sovereigntyIn poor countries: regain local control over resources andproduction. 1) agribusiness power 2) Green Revolutions 3) cheapfood imports (including food aid and dumping)In rich countries:1) agrarian reform and repopulation of the countryside2) reconstruction of shorter commodity chains and local foodsystemsMarket supply and demand do not meet real foodneeds: they meet corporate needs.Agriculture must stop:- working for the rich and producing stuffed andstarved : obesity epidemics and chronic hunger bothcaused by the same global food system- consuming more energy than it produces 25
  26. 26. Less obvious actions1. Support and solidarity to local land activists- 2012 has been the year of increasing violenceagainst land activists- Cambodia, Laos• ILC has set up an emergency fund for them2. Close monitoring of post- investment plansWhat happens when a land grab is stopped?Sometime the land is effectively returned toprevious occupiers, but stays in the hands ofstate agencies
  27. 27. reflections on the land grabs in Tanzania1. Land dispossession and environmentalenclosures2. A land grab ante litteram3. Land grabs- 1/ongoing- 2/unclear- 3/ gone..but!4. Land dispossession, class and the role of theState
  28. 28. Environmental enclosures in TanzaniaSource: Tanzania GIS Community
  29. 29. environmental enclosuresRoderick Neumann 1998; Dan Brockington 2005forced evictions from protected areas• Restricted or prohibited: agriculture, hunting,charcoal making, wood collection, cattle-keeping13.787 km2 - totally inaccessible37.428 km2 – partially restrictedout of total 94.509 km2about 39% of the country
  30. 30. Privatisation ofstate farms:Kapungaa land grabante litteram
  31. 31. evidence of land concentration and class formation2005 elections : collective land claims and politicslocal large farmers + urban professionals investing inagricultureVs.precarious alliance: middle producers allied with smallrural producers, wage labourers, landless and too poorto farm• All lose out : privatised estates sold to large investors.• International capital involved: IFC – Carlyle Group• Land grabs build on this pre-existing class hegemony
  32. 32. Land grabs in TanzaniaFELISA4,250hectaresOil palmAGRISOLDownsized:320,000hectaresnow 35,000KITOMONDOex Sekab2,000hectaresAim: 200,000Ex - KoreaEx – SekabNowgovernmentRUBADARufiji District
  33. 33. • Long-term leasehold contracts : legal transfer(= expropriation) from Village Land to PublicLand/General Land• Once the land is put under lease, redistribution tolocal people is unlikely to happen• One investor may leave; the lease is under control ofthe Ministry of Lands• The Tanzania Investment Centre signals it asavailable to new investors• Speculation• Role of the state• Clear trend of dispossession
  34. 34. Opposition parties and the land grab• Since general elections 2005: oppositionparties increasingly vocal on the land grab• Ministry of Land and ex- UN Habitat ExecutiveAnna Tibaijuka announces land ceiling to beimposed to foreign land acquistion• Ceiling: 3,000 hectares
  35. 35. Basic resources - check these out!• Transnational Institute group on AgrarianJustice: and campaigns on land deals• Genetic Resources Action International -GRAIN and weekly news on land deals• International Land Coalition ILC database on land deals
  36. 36. Professor Lionel Cliffe
  37. 37. LAND GRABBING FOR BIOFUEL &OTHER PRODUCTSWhat is behind it?What is ahead for Africa?
  38. 38. WHAT BIOFUELS?• Food crops: sugar, maize and other grain –– But high cost production in money and energy• Jatropha, supposed to be OK on marginal land– but production may often use water• Palm oil, by afr the highest yields but may beat expense of forest or farmland
  39. 39. BIOFUELS: the Scale• 50 million hectares worldwide acquired forbiofuels in recent years• EU’s Renewable Energy Directive target of 25%requires another 40 m. ha.• In Tanzania two allocations of 200,000+ ha.,several in range of 20 – 80,000
  40. 40. Range of other Land Grabs• Long history: land grabs central to colonialism• Land grabs by local elites e.g. Kenya• Wide variety of Contemporary grabs:- Vast plantations- Irrigation schemes- Blocs of farms and gated villages- Displaced S African and Zimbabwe white farmers- Food and industrial crops, for export and local
  41. 41. SYSTEMIC DRIVERS OF GRABSExponential growth since 2005Not simply response to new levels of food andfuel demandsGlobal shifts in AGRICULTURAL COMMODITYMARKETSDynamic and crisis of FINANCIAL SYSTEMS
  42. 42. THE NEW LOGIC:Control of the Planet’s Land• Speculative motives for commodity and landinvestment require CONTROL of the ultimateresource.• Is a compromise possible based on institutingSecure PROPERTY Rights - for investors andlocals?• Or is dispossession via an African ENCLOSUREPORCESS INEVITABLE?