The US’s Millennium Challenge Corporation was created by the US Congress in January 2004 and has a large budget. There is a big carrot dangling to lure countries in as the money is disbursed in the form of grants, not loans. With its land projects in Mali, Ghana, Mozambique and Benin it is plain the MCC is playing a key role in commodifying Africa’s farmlands and opening them up to US agribusiness.
Ethiopia is one of the main targets in the current global farmland grab. The government has stated publicly that it wants to sell off three million hectares of farmland in the country to foreign investors, and around one million hectares have already been signed away. Much of the land that these investors have acquired is in the province of Gambella, a fertile area that is home to the Anuak nation. The Anuak are indigenous people who have always lived in Gambella and who practise farming, pastoralism, hunting and gathering. Nyikaw Ochalla, an Anuak living in exile in the United Kingdom, is trying to understand what this new wave of land deals will mean for the Anuak and other local communities in Ethiopia.
Across East and West Africa, an estimated 50 million traditional livestock producers are not only supporting their families, their communities and a huge meat and hides industry, but are also demonstrating a rare capacity to adapt to climate change. A new study into pastoralism in Africa’s drylands shows that, despite serious problems caused by bureaucracy, border controls and, more recently, land grabbing, many of the livestock rearers are resourceful, highly productive and financially canny.
Herders are successfully using cattle to restore the land and to regenerate the rivers in a devastated region of Zimbabwe. They are demonstrating what was once known but has been widely forgotten: that cattle and other large herbivores play a vital role in maintaining ecosystems in arid parts of the world. They are working with nature, not against it.
Between 28 February and 3 March 2010, the Network for the Defence of Maize, the National Assembly of Environmentally Affected People and Vía Campesina–North America held an independent public hearing in Guadalajara, Mexico. The objective was to bring together the evidence and to elaborate the arguments for starting proceedings in international courts of justice against the Mexican government for deliberately permitting the introduction into the country of genetically modified maize. Mexico is where maize originated, thousands of years ago, and where today more than 1,500 native varieties grow, evolve, and are bred. The cultivation of these varieties is governed by a complex interaction of not only social relations, profound knowledge and trust, but also community resistance.
(Hunger, cars, wheat and us: a critique of biofuels), Nicolino Fabrice, Editions Fayard, April 2008, 175 pages.
The idea of using hybrid rice technology to feed humanity has certainly paid off for the companies behind it: they are getting a huge return from seeds and agrochemical sales. However, reason dictates that more than a decade of investment in this poorly performing rice should be enough.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) have ruled that the eviction of the Endorois people from their land in the 1970s by the Kenyan government violated their right as an indigenous people to property, health, culture, religion and natural resources. It is a ruling that could have great influence on land claims made by indigenous peoples all over Africa.