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Back to Seized: The 2008 landgrab for food and financial security

The 2008 Landgrab for Food and Financial Security

Barcelona, Spain


1. See GRAIN, “Making a killing from hunger”, Against the grain, Barcelona, April 2008,

2. “World No-Food Day: CEDAC said that around 100,000 families in Cambodia lack sufficient food”, The Mirror, Phnom Penh, 18 October 2008.

3. The Chinese government recently announced a commitment of US$5bn for Chinese corporations to invest in African agriculture over the next 50 years through the new China-Africa Development Fund. The CADF is a private equity fund whose shareholder is the China Development Bank. See T. Michael Johnny, “China earmarks US$5 billion for food production on continent”, The News, Monrovia, 23 April 2008.

4. China is the birthplace of the soya bean and the world’s largest consumer of it, but today the country imports 60% of its needs. As for maize, China will soon be a net importer. Both of these crops are essential to China’s growing meat and dairy industries.

5. See “Oryza hybrida”, GRAIN’s blog on hybrid rice, for many accounts of China’s hybrid rice takeover in foreign lands: . An investigative French television report on how this is playing out in Cameroon was produced in May 2008 for TF1: (video and text, French only).

6. Quoted in Li Ping, “Hopes and strains in China’s overseas farming plan”, Economic Observer, Beijing, 3 July 2008.

7. The most detailed report is given by Li Ping, in ibid.

8. “Chinese debate pros and cons of overseas farming investments”, Guardian, 11 May 2008.

9. In 2007, foreigners represented 63% of the population in the Gulf States as a whole. In UAE, they represent more than 82%. These figures are expected to grow much further in the coming years as a lot more migrant workers come in, fleeing economic hardship and unemployment at home.

10. Margaret Coker, “UN food chief warns on buying farms”, Wall Street Journal, 10 September 2008.

11. India consumes 11m tonnes of edible oil each year, importing half its needs. The imports are mainly palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia, plus soya oil from Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. As for pulses, India consumes 18-19m tonnes of lentils each year, importing a quarter of them.

12. Cleofe Maceda, “UAE signs MoU with Philippines to ensure food supply”, Gulf News, 22 July 2008.

13. Quoted in AgCapita Newsletter, AgCapita Partners, Calgary, 25 July 2008.

14. Quoted in Catherine Belton, “Agriculture: The battle to bring more land into production”, Financial Times, London, 30 September 2008.

15. Herbert Boh, Communications Coordinator, World Bank, interviewed by Howard Lesser, Voice of America, on 14 October 2008. . The Bank’s IFC proudly boasts that it changed Sierra Leone’s land ownership laws last year so that foreigners may gain control. See the Foreign Investment Advisory Service’s report on sub-Saharan Africa at

16. “Pakistan eyeing corporate farming amid rising wheat crisis”, Kuwait News Agency, 11 October 2008.

17. Land Centre for Human Rights, “Once more the farmers of the village of El-Mrashda are standing in the face of the blowing wind. ... Who will protect their rights”, Cairo, 15 October 2008.

18. “Merauke mega-project raises food fears”, Down to Earth, No. 78, London, August 2008.

Published In Motion Magazine November 5, 2008