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Turning African farmland over to big business

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GRAIN

“MCC African partner countries are open for business”
Ambassador John Danilovich, CEO of the MCC, June 2008

When the European powers invaded Africa they brought with them their systems of private property. Laws were established based on these systems, in order to justify, entrench and facilitate the takeover of lands from local communities. But such laws were hardly ever applied or respected beyond the boundaries of the European farms and plantations. With independence, although the Western laws often stayed on the books, the African states assumed ultimate and often sole ownership of all lands in their territories. But in practice they did not have the power to manage these lands. So the vast majority of land in the African countryside, through the colonial period and up until today, has been governed according to local communities’ customary land practices. 1

These customary practices are often complex and rarely static. They have evolved over time, shifting with local power politics and adapting to new pressures, such as urbanisation, migration, deforestation or the fragmentation of lands. They are based on varied and overlapping rights and responsibilities, and profoundly integrated with local farming, fishing and pastoral practices. In official circles, these systems of land management have been marginalised and condemned for years, but today they are under unprecedented attack.2

Africa has become the new frontier for global food (and agrofuel) production. Billions of dollars are being mobilised to create the infrastructure that will connect more of Africa’s farmland to global markets, and billions more are being mobilised by investors to take over that farmland to produce for those markets. To get a sense of the extent of what is transpiring, one need only look at the massive oil-palm plantation planned for Liberia by the world’s largest palm-oil companies, or the joint Japanese–Brazilian project to transform vast areas of Mozambique into Brazilian-style soya plantations.3 There is no place for Africa’s millions of small farmers in this new vision. And, like the colonial powers that came before, the new wave of invaders needs a legal and administrative structure to justify and facilitate the takeover of these lands. More

NAIS and the World Conservation Bank… hmmm

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Put together under Patriot Act provisions……NAIS is the greatest land grab in our history.

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