Land to the Tillers: Responses to Land Grabs
|November 11, 2013||Posted by Staff under Activism|
In Cambodia, where government has handed 73% of Cambodia’s arable land, most of it belonging to small farmers, over to businesses, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s grip on society is threatened by public anger against land grabs.
The Colombian Ambassador to the US, Carlos Urrutia, was forced to resign after the exposé of a shady deal in which he helped sell land to the agribusiness giant Cargill and others.
The nation of Georgia banned the sale of land to foreigners.
An estimated 120 to 200 million acres of land have been sold in international investment deals in recent years, approximately two-thirds of them in Africa. Land is also being taken for biofuel plantations, mining, oil drilling, and other energy projects.
The deals may be flat-out illegal, or farmers may be forced to sell due to their dire economic circumstances. Peasant farmers and indigenous peoples are especially vulnerable, as they often lack paper deeds to land they have inhabited for centuries.
Small- and medium-sized farmers are at risk in the global North, too, sometimes forced to sell out because of financial instability. City-dwellers around the world face a parallel situation through foreclosures and corporate development of urban land and public housing.
More than 500 organizations worldwide have signed onto the Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing, which calls upon governments to immediately cease land grabs and return stolen land to communities.
In the US, organizations such as GRAIN and the National Family Farm Coalition are painstakingly tracing the flows of funding globally and documenting land grabs backed by investment companies. They are spreading the word that people may be investing their retirement savings in firms that finance land grabs, like TIAA-CREF, and encouraging the public to invest their savings elsewhere.