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  • Title: Passage of CAFTA-DR: A Case of Political Amnesia | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Passage of CAFTA-DR: A Case of Political Amnesia.. Friday, July 1, 2005.. This was distributed by the Inter Press Service.. If anyone wants to reprint it, please contact the IPS Columnist Service at.. romacol@ips.. org.. Passage of CAFTA-DR: A Case of Political Amnesia.. by Anuradha Mittal*.. With the passage of Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR ) on July 27, 2005 with a final vote of 217 to 215, held well-past the normal 15-minute voting time and closing after midnight, the most disenfranchised in the region - the working poor, immigrants, family farmers, small businesses, women and children - were once again shafted by the U.. S.. Congress.. The debate before the rounding up of votes was rooted in the political amnesia of the elected officials in the U.. For example:.. - Proponents of CAFTA-DR claimed that it will eradicate poverty by eliminating trade barriers between the United States and five Central American countries -- Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica along with the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.. However such claims fall apart when one examines the evidence from CAFTA-DR’s predecessor, NAFTA, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, Americans and Canadians losing their jobs, thousands of family farms facing foreclosure and public interest laws taking a back seat to secret NAFTA court negotiations and rulings.. CAFTA- DR will further eradicate livelihoods, dignity, and basic rights of the poor.. Not surprisingly then, labor rights, human rights and environmental rights groups were just some of the organizations at the forefront of the resistance movement against the ratification of CAFTA-DR.. - Brandishing words like freedom" and "democracy," the proponents claimed that CAFTA-DR is good for national security while Jim Kolbe, a Republican from Arizona, was quoted as vowing to win its passage by twisting some arms until they break in a thousand pieces.. And as the CAFTA-DR supporters were busy stirring up hysteria against popular Latin American leaders such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, they failed to acknowledge that the referendum results in Venezuela last year -- the turn out being the most impressive of any election in the Venezuelan history --  ...   and not multinational corporations.. They have fearlessly faced riot police whether it is El Salvador or Guatemala, where this past March, two protestors were killed and at least 25 injured when the Guatemalan military fired into a crowd of workers, teachers and farmers demonstrating for human rights.. These protests were spurred by the ratification of CAFTA-DR by the Guatemalan Congress on March 10, 2005.. Given the ugly reality of CAFTA-DR, its passage does not contribute to the United States credibility in global trade negotiations.. In fact it is a temporary victory for the forces interested in subverting the interests of the poor that form the majority of the humanity in the region.. The combination of resentments inflamed by the undemocratic process, corporate assaults on the livelihoods and dignity of the working poor, indiscriminate locking together of unequal economies, will only reinvigorate civil society's resistance to corporate driven globalization.. If the proponents of CAFTA-DR had moved beyond their myopic corporate interests, they would have learnt from the political phenomenon sweeping Latin America.. In addition to the disfranchised in Venezuela who voted in favor of President Chavez, supporting his economic policies which are bringing education and health care to the poor, Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay was swept into power for challenging the 'Washington consensus,' which has pushed the poor further into poverty while profiting the rich.. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist mayor of Mexico City, jammed the streets with thousand of supporters earlier this year.. This is what democracy looks like when the poor, the indigenous, and the voiceless topple governments to elect leaders who can govern with integrity and can actually represent their aspirations.. * Anuradha Mittal is the director of the Oakland Institute, an Oakland-based policy think tank which is bringing dynamic new voices into policy debates and promoting public participation and fair debate on critical economic and social policy issues.. (.. www.. oaklandinstitute.. ).. Contact.. the oakland institute.. P.. O.. Box 18978.. Oakland, CA 94619.. info@oaklandinstitute.. Donate.. Your tax-deductible donation allows us to conduct independent research, analysis, and advocacy to facilitate democratic participation in critical policy decisions that affect our quality of life..

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  • Title: Is Indian Investment in Ethiopian Farms a 'Land Grab?' | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Is Indian Investment in Ethiopian Farms a Land Grab?.. December 23, 2011.. Source:.. Christian Science Monitor.. View Original.. By William Davison.. Investment by Indian-owned Karuturi Global has raised questions about whether Ethiopia is literally giving away the farm, or conversely, launching a 'green revolution' to help Ethiopia feed itself.. ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA--When an Indian company invests hundreds of millions of dollars in Ethiopian commercial farming, is it boosting Ethiopia's food reserves and modernizing agricultural practices? Or is it grabbing land and displacing Ethiopia's poorest citizens?.. The debate over Indian-owned Karuturi Global's investments in Ethiopia's Gambella region may sound extreme, but it is representative of the strong emotions one finds across the developing world about the subject of agricultural investment.. In Ethiopia – where critics are aghast at the government for inviting foreign capitalists to grow cash crops for export while millions still rely on handouts – the rancor is hindering much-needed constructive discussion on how to improve a sector of the economy that employs most of the population.. The worldwide trend is not in doubt.. Globally, about 45 million hectares (111 million acres) of farmland were leased in 2009, compared with a previous average rate of 4 million hectares a year, the World Bank says.. More than 70 percent of the deals were in Africa, most of them in Sudan, Mozambique, Liberia, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Madagascar.. The reasons are equally clear.. It is estimated that global food production will have to increase 70 percent by 2050 to feed 9 billion mouths.. One way to contribute to this is to cultivate under-utilized land – something which Africa has a relatively large stock of.. Ethiopia is a prime example of land availability, according to the government.. The country has 74.. 3 million hectares of arable land, of which 12 million is cultivated.. Another 3.. 5 million hectares has been earmarked for leasing and 350,000 hectares of large plots have been rented in the last two years, it says.. The Oakland Institute, a research group, says the area leased is ten times the official figure.. Antiquated methods.. Despite it being the backbone of the economy and employing around 80 percent of the country's 85 million people, Ethiopian agriculture is antiquated, with oxen dragging wooden plows a common sight.. Even the staunchest opponent of agri-business is likely to admit that the smallholder- and subsistence-dominated sector is ripe for modernization – although almost all of them would object to Ethiopia's approach.. Organizations like Oakland and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) have methodically highlighted the inadequacies and injustices of the process.. But such constructive concern has been latched onto by government opponents, who have added acquiescence with “land grabs” to kleptocracy and genocide in their litany of the state's evils.. Officials – in unison as always – dismiss all criticism, insisting the policy is well-managed and beneficial to all.. Located on the border with Sudan, lowland Gambella is a focal point for the leases – and for the debate.. The government's plan is for 1.. 2 million hectares  ...   regional administration's haste to host Karuturi; two years later the federal government reduced the lease by two-thirds to 100,000 hectares, describing the original plot as unmanageable.. But this act of caution appears to be an exception.. The IIED identified weak contracts as a problem in some African land deals.. The Karuturi agreement is a case in point.. While the government refers to technology transfer and jobs as benefits, no reference is made to either in the 9-page contract.. Karuturi is given the right to build infrastructure – including homes and hospitals – but no obligation is placed upon it to provide for communities, nor any stipulation made about how much of each crop it grows, let alone where it sells them.. There are only non-specific demands that land is "developed" to certain extents within specified periods of time.. The government claims projects are assessed for their effect on surroundings by the environmental regulator, but there is scanty evidence of this.. Karuturi also refused to disclose its study.. Oakland found environmental impact assessments were "rarely carried out prior to project implementation.. ".. Local environmental groups and researchers are unanimous in believing that if EIAs are submitted by investors, they lack rigor – and are neither properly assessed nor monitored by government bodies lacking the capability and autonomy to do so.. Given the intensity of the scheme in Gambella – and Ethiopia's other peripheral regions – thorough planning is vital.. The long-term productivity of farms could be threatened by the extraction of large amounts of water, experts speculate.. The draining of wetlands and cutting of trees reduces the area's rich bio-diversity and could disrupt an ecosystem that contains gigantic swathes of forest, grassland, and swamps.. Gambella's inhabitants appear equally disregarded.. The Ethiopian Forum for Social Studies found that there were no discussions with locals while preparing leases.. Oakland said community consultation is "non-existent".. As a result, both conclude, residents are likely to suffer from the deals.. With plans to resettle three-quarters of the region's scattered population into villages also underway, communication needs to improve.. Karuturi's record is also unimpressive.. Its claims to have provided water, light and mosquito nets for the village of Ilea, a short walk from its headquarters, seemed baseless.. In October, Karuturi announced that its first harvest, 60,000 tons of maize, had been lost to flooding, costing the company $15 million.. It is too early to say whether the land investments will help Ethiopia feed itself – at present, Ethiopia remains the world’s largest food-aid recipient – but Karuturi claimed the grain would have been used to aid the millions suffering from drought in the east and southeast of the country.. Also of interest was the potential earning from the 12,000 hectares of maize: If the whole 100,000 hectares was as profitable, the harvest would have brought in $125 million.. The company is paying $116,000 annually to lease the land – or 0.. 09% of that potential revenue from one harvest.. Critics say that the government should be extracting more cash from the lease..

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  • Title: Ag Development Deals in Africa Raise Concerns | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Ag Development Deals in Africa Raise Concerns.. December 19, 2011.. Harvest Public Media.. By Kathleen Masterson.. For the better half of the last decade, foreign investors have been flocking to get their hands on arable land in Africa.. Worries about food security and rising grain prices have driven a flurry of foreign investment deals in Tanzania, Mali, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Mozambique.. Investors from the U.. , China, South Korea and other nations are leasing or negotiating leases for more than 138 million acres in Africa (about the size of Michigan), according to a 2011.. World Bank report.. , though some accounts put the number much higher.. Many investors describe their project as bringing development, technology and food to impoverished areas, but critics describe the land leases and purchases as plantation-style land grabs.. They are concerned that the large development projects may undermine smaller, local efforts to increase food production because many foreign investors aim to grow and sell grain and biofuels to foreign markets, doing little for the local economy and health.. Local farmers also may be losing their land rights.. “Agreements to lease or cede large areas of land in no circumstance should be allowed to trump the human rights obligations of the states concerned,” United Nations investigator Olivier De Schutter told.. Africa Renewal.. But critics say it's already happening.. The poor are bearing disproportionate costs, but reaping few benefits, according to a.. report.. released last week by the.. International Land Coalition.. and the.. International Institute for the Environment and Development.. The authors write that "poor governance, including the weak protection of the resource rights of the poor, corrupt and unaccountable decision-making" are sidelining citizens' rights and allowing foreign companies to come in and develop the land with little oversight.. They write that women  ...   It is so much different than the model that over time has taken advantage of Africa.. Rastetter declined a follow-up interview with me, but offered another contact who has not returned calls.. The Oakland Institute.. , a California-based policy think tank, is concerned that the AgriSol project will displace some 160,000 refugees from Burundi who have been living on the land for 40 years.. These communities have turned the once-fallow land into small-scale agriculture operations.. “This is land which has been feeding so many families, and large-scale commercial agriculture is mechanized, it does not create jobs for these small-holder farmers.. At best some might become share-croppers, some might become plantation workers, at most.. But it's going to deny their food security,” said Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the institute.. Mittal said the Oakland Institute is not opposed to the company and its partners making a profit, but it is concerned that the people living on the land have not had a voice in the process.. “How do we actually benefit the national economy?” she asked, “because a lot of these projects are going into African nations with the promises of job creation, of boosting the agriculture economy.. ”.. Mittal said investors are asking the Tanzanian government to give them strategic investor status, which would mean tax holidays and time without import duties for any equipment they bring in.. Investigations by FAO, the World Bank and independent organizations conclude that government failure to negotiate more beneficial and equitable leases is a looming problem in most of the land deals.. According to the World Bank report, failure to properly screen proposals before approving , to negotiate proper taxes, and to involve citizens in the process all contribute to the danger of a "race to the bottom" to attract investors..

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  • Title: South Sudan Set to Showcase Its Foreign Investment Potential | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: South Sudan Set to Showcase Its Foreign Investment Potential.. December 14, 2011.. Guardian.. Frederika Whitehead and Claire Provost.. Salva Kiir displays the new constitution at South Sudan's independence ceremony in July.. His next task is to woo foreign investors.. Photograph: Andrew Burton/AP.. Government leaders and investors are gathering in Washington DC on Wednesday for a two-day conference to discuss development and investment priorities in.. South Sudan.. , the latest in a succession of international trade conferences as the world's newest country seeks to open itself up to foreign investments.. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, World Bank president Robert Zoellick, Mo Ibrahim, and the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, are among those expected to speak at the gathering.. The event will also be attended by officials from the UK, Norway, Turkey, the EU, the UN, the African Union, the International Finance Corporation, the Corporate Council on.. Africa.. , and dozens of government officials.. President Kiir is due to outline his development and investment priorities at the conference, aimed at wooing foreign firms.. Rajiv Shah, head of the US aid agency USAid, said the conference is an opportunity for the government of South Sudan to lay out its vision for the future of its economy.. The event, he said, would allow for "direct dialogue and engagement with the private sector here in the United States and around the world" and will "help private companies and investors see the Republic of Southern Sudan as a place where they want to increase their investments, thereby enabling significant economic development and economic growth".. Shah stressed the need for effective co-ordination between regional partners to help the country develop, adding that he "hopes that the private sector will be a major feature of the Southern Sudanese presentation and of our partnership with them".. There has been a surge of investor interest in South Sudan since the country became formally independent in July this year.. This week's conference is the latest in a stream of events organised by the Government of South Sudan and foreign  ...   as education, healthcare and access to clean water.. "But the new country faces huge challenges and I am in Washington DC … to discuss how best to help South Sudan achieve a stable and prosperous future.. The minister is chairing a panel session on accountability, transparency and governance and is "seeking commitments from South Sudan's finance minister on how they will build an accountable, inclusive and transparent government".. Norway's development minister will lead a session on managing oil revenue, while USAid's chief economist will run a session on attracting investors.. Dana Wilkins, from Global Witness, who is attending a session on managing the country's oil revenue, said the NGO had been asked to provide recommendations for oil governance in South Sudan based on international best practice.. She expressed concern that "despite strong commitments to publishing oil data and contracts, the role of oversight institutions like the audit chamber and parliament will continue to be overlooked by the government and donors.. This would be a terrible omission and risk undermining the accountability of the entire sector.. Some observers say judgement should be withheld until more information comes out about exactly what types of investment are being promoted.. Researchers at the California-based Oakland Institute, for example, are warning against large-scale foreign land investments that are promoted as development solutions for the new nation.. "Competition over land and natural resources was among the root causes of the civil war in South Sudan.. The war has now ended, but land issues continue to plague the new nation," said David Deng, author of a recent Oakland Institute report that looked at land deals in South Sudan covering an estimated 5.. 15m hectares.. "As South Sudan opens for business, foreign companies are flocking to invest in the new country and buy up land.. For a school, a health centre, some vague promises of employment opportunities, or a couple of thousand dollars in annual lease payments, companies are given long-term leasehold rights of up to 99-years, often without the knowledge of the local populations living on the land..

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  • Title: Rush for Land a Wake-Up Call for Poorer Countries, Report Says | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Rush for Land a Wake-Up Call for Poorer Countries, Report Says.. Claire Provost.. Over the last year a number of reports have focused on foreign investors ‘grabbing’ large tracts of land in poor African countries.. Photograph: Stephen Morrison/EPA.. Population growth, the increasing consumption of a global elite, and an international legal system skewed in favour of largescale investors are fuelling a worldwide rush for land that is unfolding faster than previously thought and is likely to continue, according to.. the largest study of international land deals to date.. Researchers estimate that more than 200m hectares of land – over eight times the size of the UK – have been sold or leased between 2000 and 2010.. But although the food price crisis of 2007-08 may have triggered a boom in.. international land deals.. , the study argues that a much broader set of factors – linked to population growth and the rise of emerging economies – is raising the prospect of "a new era in the struggle for, and control over, land in many areas of the global south".. Forty civil society and research groups fed into the global commercial pressures on land research project, co-ordinated by the International Land Coalition (ILC), which draws on a decade of data to identify and analyse trends in large land acquisitions, and highlights the role of governments in brokering deals that may marginalise rural communities and jeopardise the future of family farming in favour of big industrial projects.. This is the most comprehensive study to date of international land deals, pulling together findings from investigations around the world.. Over the last year a number of reports have focused on cases of foreign investors "grabbing" large tracts of land in poor African countries to grow cheap food for their own populations.. But, according to a study published by the ILC on Wednesday, rich national investors play a much larger role than previously thought, food is not the main focus of these deals, and African governments are not the only ones signing away large tracts of land.. Data collected by researchers show that around 40% of land acquired over the last decade is intended for biofuel production.. In comparison, 25% is for food  ...   offering benefits such as tax breaks and low prices, said the ILC.. This week the US aid agency, USAid is hosting an international conference to promote foreign investment in South Sudan.. Research by the US-based Oakland Institute suggests that almost 9% of South Sudan's land had already been leased or bought by investors prior to the country's independence in July this year.. Wednesday's study argues that international trade regimes are overwhelmingly skewed in favour of international investors, while fewer and less effective international mechanisms exist to safeguard the rights of the rural poor.. Meanwhile, the common lack of formal, legal titles to land is heightening the vulnerability of rural communities.. "As governments own the land, it is easy for them to lease large areas to investors, but the benefits for local communities or national treasuries are often minimal," said Lorenzo Cotula, of the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development.. "This highlights the need for poor communities to have stronger rights over the land they have lived on for generations.. Last year, the G20 summit in Seoul encouraged all countries and companies to uphold a set of principles for responsible agricultural investment, developed by the UN and the World Bank.. But critics argue that voluntary international agreements can amount to little more than window-dressing.. Earlier this year African leaders gathered in Lusaka, Zambia, to discuss ways to regulate land-based foreign direct investment.. Resistance to large land deals is growing.. In August, residents of Mukaya Payam, in South Sudan's Central Equatoria state, launched a campaign against what would have been the country's largest land deal – a.. 49-year lease of 600,000 hectares.. by an American company.. Last month, hundreds of smallholder farmers and civil society activists converged on Selingue, in southern Mali, for the first.. international farmers' conference.. to tackle the global rush for land.. The ILC says: "Optimistically, it may even be hoped that rural communities in many parts of the world are able to finally achieve secure access to and control over their land through struggles catalysed by the increasing demand for it.. It is to be hoped that the rush for land will act as a wake-up call, provoking a reconsideration of the path we are on..

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  • Title: Reflections on 2011: Best Local NGO | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Reflections on 2011: Best Local NGO.. East Bay Express.. Happiest and Most Honest Reunion:.. the release of the final two "Iran hikers," Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal.. In their press conference when they returned to the US in September, they condemned the treatment given to prisoners in Iran.. When they had complained to their captors, the jailers taunted them with references to US actions at Guantanamo and the clandestine CIA prisons.. While spotlighting Iran's actions, Bauer had the courage to say: "We do believe that these actions on the part of the US provide an excuse for other governments, including the government of Iran, to act in kind.. Most Heart-Wrenching Local Story:.. The deaths of kids in local violence.. Three weeks ago one-year-old Hiram Lawrence Jr.. was shot in the head as his dad, Hiram Lawrence Sr.. , was holding him in a parking lot at 7th and Willow streets in West Oakland.. Hiram Jr.. died on December 9.. He was a beautiful little boy.. Most Heart-Wrenching National Story:.. The situation facing female veterans, who are more likely to be attacked by male soldiers than by the "enemy.. " Constantly sexually harassed by a military whose brass lets it go on, these vets leave the military at a time when they are unlikely to find work or meaningful support.. And they have to live with the reality that the deaths and injuries to their comrades were truly in vain; this psychological fact caused Vietnam War veterans no small amount of personal pain and anguish that affected society for many years.. PTSD will be an epidemic among these women.. Interesting East Bay Trend:.. Occupy Oakland has generated productive discussions among Buy Local advocates and the occupiers.. The East Bay has one of the few small business communities that truly feels a greater kinship to their neighbors than to their business profits.. These "indie revolutionaries" have energy and passion with great potential.. In conversation with the occupiers, fascinating activity is possible.. Second Interesting East Bay Trend:.. The East Bay is back as an incubator for political ideas and activity.. The East Bay's wonderfully rich and diverse local population, a harbinger of future demographics for much of the country, provides a fertile field for the generation and testing of new ideas.. The energy of Occupy Oakland/Berkeley/Cal has elevated the East Bay to its previous preeminent spot for creative political work.. As an example, nearly two thousand people, hungry for ways to understand and change the world, attended a conversation with populist professor Cornel West and old-leftist Carl Dix in which everything was on the table.. Best Local Union (1):.. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, headquartered in Oakland, continues to be bold and creative on behalf of its members.. It does its work in a way that stresses the links between things that are good for its members and society, as well — not always an easy task.. Best Local Union (2):.. The East Bay chapter of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).. With a sterling progressive history, it's faced with navigating the shoals of defending its members, standing tall politically, and resisting the kookiest ideas of some of the occupiers.. It is a difficult task, and they have done it quite well in 2011.. Dumbest Union Battle:.. The fight between state health care unions — the SEIU-UHW and the NUHW — continues.. (Disclaimer: I have friends in both camps.. ) The NUHW has succeeded in stopping a re-vote at the huge Kaiser unit after its humiliating election defeat, hoping that time will weaken support for SEIU-UHW among the workers.. The finances of NUHW are precarious, but through donations from liberal friends and unions who dislike the SEIU-UHW, they are surviving.. The SEIU-UHW, on the other hand, continues a top-down strategy that often baffles even backers.. And its "my way or the highway attitude" often rankles.. But both groups believe they have the best interest of workers at heart, contain some extraordinary worker-leaders, and are committed, smart, and good  ...   uncompromising.. Unlike many on the left, he is willing to criticize Democratic politicians.. He recently took on liberal think tank Center for American Progress for arguing that the assassination of an American citizen in Yemen was one of the many "successes" of Obama foreign policy.. His journalistic work showed that other than the "terrorist" label, neither the government nor the backers of the assassination could provide evidence to back up this dangerousness.. Greenwald has done some of the best work on WikiLeaks as well, emphasizing the importance of courage for those who stand up and are counted.. Honorable Mention goes to Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone for fantastic writing on the banksters.. Most Interesting Local Media Story:.. Watching the local print/online media.. From the obscene salaries paid to the honchos of groovy new nonprofit media outlets to the financial machinations at the Bay Area New Group, the odd denouement of the SF Bay Guardian/SF Weekly battle, the departure of reactionary Phil Anschutz from the SF Examiner, and the rants of the Oakland-haters at the SF Chronicle, there was always something interesting to watch in local media in 2011.. Best International Figure:.. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.. Yes, the anti's have succeeded in publicizing his significant personal flaws, but transparency is the fear of the International Vampire Class.. Shining lights on their lies and machinations is crucial.. Stupidest Ideas (Factual):.. All of those put forward by the loony tunes crop of Republican presidential candidates.. But you have to admire Ron Paul for his consistency and the parts of his libertarianism that challenge the elite.. Stupidest Ideas (Rationality):.. The continuing ability of Americans to blame their fellow 99ers for the ills of the country, instead of the elite and their defenders in the national Republican and Democratic parties.. More Worrisome Aspect of Our Species (Criminal Issue):.. The sexual abuse of youngsters by coaches is out of hand.. Recent revelations also appear to be just the tip of the iceberg.. Our paper has written about the epidemic in the swimming community.. And now we see it with macho football and basketball coaches, too.. What is up with these sick men?.. Most Worrisome Aspect of Our Species (Rational Issue):.. Our inability to see and think long-term.. I hope this has to do with the ADD of our current world, engendered by the speed of modern society and the dysfuntionality of a political system controlled by the elite.. But I am not sure.. Most Worrying National Trend:.. Authoritarianism.. In the 21st-century struggle between government and personal political rights, the Obama administration has picked up where Bush and his cronies left off, giving authoritarianism a left veneer.. Using the rubric of endless war, any restriction on needed governmental transparency or free-speech rights becomes valid.. For example, in a decision to allow the City of Boston to move against the Occupy Boston encampment, a judge wrote: "Little in the way of expression is outlawed under the United States Constitution, but an act which incites a lawful forceful response is unlikely to pass as expressive speech.. " Say what? Given the willingness of law enforcement to use forceful responses, and the willingness of courts and legislatures to approve nearly anything they do as "lawful," this attitude should give everyone pause.. Saddest Upcoming Sight:.. Watching East Bay liberals shill for Obama in the next election, claiming that he really wants to do right, but the obstructionist Republicans will not let him.. Remind, me, why did he and the Democratically-controlled Congress re-up the Bush tax cuts for the rich? Why have the wars gone on for so long? Is Iran next? But, hey, he is so much better than the other guy, right?.. Best from Jean Quan:.. Working to keep the Athletics, Warriors, and Raiders in the East Bay.. For all the bad that comes from mega-sports teams, they are one of the few things that bring all the classes and cultures in a community together.. Worst from Jean Quan:.. Her bumbling on Occupy Oakland — 'nuff said..

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  • Title: South Sudan: Land Deals 'Threaten Country's Development' | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: South Sudan: Land Deals Threaten Country s Development.. December 12, 2011.. UN Integrated Regional Information Network.. The vast majority of people in South Sudan depend on land for their livelihoods/Photo:.. Hannah McNeish/IRIN.. Juba — Land deals done in newly-independent South Sudan "threaten to undermine the land rights of rural communities, increase food insecurity, entrench poverty, and skew development patterns" in the resource-rich but poor nation, a new report says.. The US-based Oakland Institute (OI) says deals done prior to South Sudan's independence this year for almost 9 percent of the new nation's land will do little to help the nation build itself up from one of the least developed countries in the world.. "In order to meet its developmental challenges, the government of South Sudan has begun promoting large-scale private investments as a short cut to rapid economic development.. However, recent data about the rate at which the government is leasing land to foreign and domestic companies" shows questionable benefit, the report says.. South Sudan became the world's newest country on 9 July when it seceded from the north after decades of war.. OI's research follows on from a report by aid agency Norwegian People's Aid (NPA).. In March NPA said over five million hectares of land had already been signed away for investment for biofuels, ecotourism, agriculture and forestry in the four years leading up to a January 2011 referendum on independence.. "The government's support for land investments is predicated on the myth that large-scale development projects are the quickest way to improve food security and stimulate the economy in South Sudan," OI reports.. But evidence from documented deals "suggests that these projects are far more likely to undermine food security by dispossessing people from land and natural resources that are indispensable to their daily livelihoods", it says, as deals have been struck with individuals with little or no community benefit or consultation.. The government's support for land investments is predicated on the myth that large-scale development projects are the quickest way to improve food security and stimulate the economy in South Sudan.. The government has said it will review all the deals done by foreign companies and try to close the many legal loopholes that have allowed foreign companies to "grab" large tracts of land without the knowledge of government and communities.. Organizations such as OI and NPA have urged a moratorium on new land deals until the right framework is in place to avoid exploitation.. Flawed 2009 Land Act?.. Jeremiah Swaka, undersecretary at the Ministry of Justice, says the government is aware that a 2009 Land Act - passed in a hurry without a policy to clarify land tenure and usage - has allowed foreign companies to buy up the country's fertile and largely uncultivated land.. "It was like putting the cart before the horse," he said, stating that many people did not understand the Act and it left all stakeholders confused about their roles.. Like many other sectors in South Sudan such as oil and construction, Swaka says land deals are another case of "hit and run" by foreigners wanting to exploit the country's wealth and cannot be called "investment".. NPA is working to empower civil society organizations in all 10 of South Sudan's states this  ...   also hoping the new policy will create greater equity to ensure land rights for all.. Gosney said it aims at "balancing South Sudan's cultural history with returnees, gender issues, who owns land when somebody dies", and especially for women, who traditionally have no rights to land and inheritance.. Land and conflict.. Robert Lado, who heads South Sudan's Land Commission, a body tasked with advising the government and drawing up the new policy, is pushing for land administrations at county and sub-county level that are run by community members, including women and tribal elders.. "Everything rests on land because we depend on oil exploration, our resources beneath the ground, subterranean resources, and we have arable land in South Sudan" which supports its 80 percent pastoralist people, Lado said.. He said avoiding disputes over land was key to ensuring peace, but issued a warning to foreign companies which have entered into dubious deals: "Their projects will never be realized as people will rise up.. In a country with high levels of inter-ethnic violence and cattle raiding often sparked by disputes over grazing land and resources such as water, other aid agencies are concerned at the potential for violence.. USAID fears that if large tracts of land are suddenly taken over, communities already contesting the use of undefined land could turn on each other and the state.. Lado said locals had threatened to kill a chief who signed a deal with US-based company Nile Trading and Development (NTD) in Lainya County, Central Equatoria State.. Biofuels.. NTD's 2008 deal to lease up to a million hectares of land to produce biofuels has been described as "South Sudan's largest land grab".. "Evidence suggests that the companies are using the agro-forestry venture as a means of advancing their oil, gas, and mining interests in South Sudan", OI's December report said of NTD's 49-year lease signed with an allegedly fictitious cooperative in a densely populated area.. OI worked with the local community to obtain South Sudan President Salva Kiir's promise to overturn the deal.. Executive Director Anuradha Mittal called this "a rare example of a community viewed by investors as near-squatters and essentially dispensable who are getting their voices heard by the highest officials in government".. Road-building.. While everyone agrees that agriculture is the key to weaning the new nation off a 98 percent dependency on oil and turning it from an import-reliant subsistence market to an export one, it needs proper investment at a national level.. "If food is going to be produced for export, then there is no way it is going to help the local community.. On the other hand, if fertile land is taken away by foreign companies, it will impact food security negatively," said NPA's project manager for land and resources, Jamus Joseph.. Joseph wants investors to sign leases for up to 99 years to help build roads to feed a nation where one in three is food insecure.. In a September report, aid agency Oxfam said large-scale land investment in Africa was "putting development in reverse".. It said drought, high commodity prices and biofuel mandates aimed at combating climate change had fuelled a new scramble for land in Africa.. [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]..

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  • Title: AgriSol Lands Another 10,000 ha Amid Growing Public Outcry | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: AgriSol Lands Another 10,000 ha Amid Growing Public Outcry.. December 11, 2011.. IPP Media.. By Gerald Kitabu.. The US-based AgriSol Company has landed another lucrative land deal involving 10,000 hectres amid growing public outcry about the recent land deals sealed by the company in Rukwa region.. The company, mid this year, came under attack from land rights activists and politicians, especially Members of Parliament for acquiring over 300,000 hectres located at Mishamo and Katumba areas in Mpanda district for agricultural development.. The attacks prompted Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda to throw his weight to defend the investor, saying the deal could benefit the local economy and had the potential to uplift peasants in the area from the vicious cycle of poverty.. He said the investor through Agrisol Energy Tanzania Limited, had acquired the land in question after open, long negotiations with regional and district leaders.. Before the dust settles, an investigation conducted by The Guardian on Sunday has revealed that the same firm has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kigoma regional authorities about two months ago for the acquisition of the land located at Lugufu area in the region.. The area in question was formerly used as the camp that harbored Congolese refugees until 2009 before they were repatriated.. It is located 92 kilometers south of Kigoma.. Lugufu has a total of 15,000 ha out of which 10,000 ha have been reserved for the investor while 5,000 ha have been reserved for the newly designated Uvinza district, to build headquarters and other services in the neighborhood.. Already residents from the villages that surround Lugufu area have started registering complaints over the manner in which the decision to award the land to the prospective investor was reached, saying the process did not involve them.. The villages that surround Lugufu area are Mwamila, Basanza, Kazuramimba and Kazaroho.. In separate interviews the residents claimed they knew nothing about the investor and the type of investment as they have never been consulted, leave alone introduction of the prospective investors to them, blaming district authorities for making it a secret deal.. Now, the residents have vowed to protest against the AgriSol investment deal in Lugufu should the deal materialize, on grounds that they have never been involved in the land acquisition process and more importantly, they were not sure of the benefits they would get when the project kicks off.. Lugufu, a camp that accommodated 510,000 Congolese refugees, is located in Uvinza ward.. Following the signing of peace agreements and consequently the restoration of peace in the Congo, the refugees were repatriated and the camp closed in 2009.. In an interview with the Guardian on Sunday, the chairman of Mwamila Village which surrounds Lugufu, Yohana Nkolanigwa said he knew nothing about the intended investment except having seen officials of the purported investment company passing through their village to Lugufu and putting beacons, a sign that send a message that the land might have been sold or was in the process of being sold.. “We don’t have any knowledge of the investor or the intended investment.. We only hear about the investment in the media, which means we have never been consulted leave alone there being awareness creation, education on benefits that we are going to get from the proposed investment,” he said.. He told this newspaper that he remembered one day in July this year a delegation passed through their village but did not stop until they arrived at Lugufu.. Later, in the evening, he went to see security guards of the Lugufu area who told him that the delegation was led by the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives accompanied by the investor and they were surveying the land.. He said he was shocked to note that the nearby land was being leased to a foreign investor while his village with a population of 4,820 was faced with shortage of land due to invasion by people from other villages such as Kazuramimba and at times, there are land conflicts caused by a rising population.. Mpenjiwa Jackson, head teacher of Mwamila primary school, apart from blaming the district authorities for leasing the land which is now habouring rare animals such as chimpazees, elephants, wild pigs, and elephants.. He said that it is not wise to lease the land to the investor while Mwamila village is faced with shortage of land, and increased population caused by migrants from Manyovu, especially the Sukuma and Tusi tribes.. “Mwamila village has no pastures for livestock keepers, and  ...   smallholders and the nation at large.. Despite Kigoma district authorities admitting to have met the investor and conducted preliminary discussions about the proposed investment, the investigation conducted in the region by the Guardian on Sunday revealed the district authorities were not aware of the signed MoU as it was regional authorities that were actively involved in the negotiation process.. Kigoma District Administrative Secretary Margreth Heguye confirmed to have information about the investor but declined to give more details, saying she knew nothing about the proposed investment as all the files were in the hands of the District Executive Director but when this newspaper reached Kigoma district’s Acting Executive Director Jomo Watai on the MoU he said had never signed the document with the investor.. “What is going on is just negotiating meetings between the two parties.. The MoU would be signed when both parties have reached consensus on the terms of leasing the land,” Watai said.. While the district council denied completely to have signed the MoU, the Kigoma region Assistant Administrative Officer responsible for Planning and Coordination, George Bussungu confirmed that the MoU was signed two months ago, and that a feasibility study was underway, financed by the investor.. In what appeared to be a surprising remark, he scoffed at the MoU signed between the Mpanda district council and the investor, saying the MoU did not have the interest to the Mpanda people and the nation.. “When we saw the MoU signed between the Mpanda District Council and the investor, it was obvious that it had no benefit to the nation.. If you look at the MoU, there is no difference with the Ministry of Energy and Minerals that gave an investor 97 percent leaving behind 3 percent as royalty for the nation,” he explained.. Despite complaints from the village leaders, local communities and other stakeholders for lack of involvement, the Kigoma regional authorities said all villages and other stakeholders were fully involved in the process.. Asked by this paper if the MoU has been signed, the regional authorities admitted to have signed it but excused themselves that the deal was still at a low stage pending the feasibility study currently underway, being taken by the investor.. Speaking cautiously on behalf of the Kigoma Regional Administrative Secretary, the Region’s Assistant Administrative Officer in the Planning and Coordination Section, George Bussungu said that the investor would only be given land if the deal would be fair for all parties.. A lesson learnt from the MoU signed between Mpanda district authorities and AgriSol in Mishamo and Katumba revealed that the deal was not fare, it aimed at benefits the investor more than locals and the nation at large.. Citing examples of some provisions in the Mpanda MoU, which Kigoma Region authorities had strong reservations, he said that his region would not agree to lease 99 years to an investor, genetically modified crops (GMOs) and that in case of conflict, the mediation should be done at the High Court of Tanzania and not in London, UK as it is written in the Mpanda MoU.. When contacted for comments on the planned investment, Betram Eyakuze , the director of AgriSol Tanzania Ltd, the Tanzanian arm of AgriSol Energy that would provide the domestic front for this operation, confirmed that AgriSol was conducting a feasibility study in Lugufu.. He declined to give details on the deal saying he was on the road and if the reporter wanted more on the matter he should file questions through his email.. “Yes, AgriSol is surveying the land including preparing an Environmental Impact Assessment but if you want to know more on other issues send me questions through my email because I am on the road driving,” he said.. Recently, the same investor signed an MoU with the Mpanda district Council, provoking protests from people of all walks of life due to controversial terms included in it.. These include the initial term of the certificate of occupancy which is 99 years lease, plus the proviso that the government creates a regulatory framework for growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops, which is not yet to be approved.. The deal, for the district, is a Sh200-per-hectare-per annum land rent, and Sh500 as fee to the council per hectare per year.. Also in the list are other controversial terms such as that for any disputes that may arise, arbitration shall be held in London, England, pursuant to the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which is reminiscent of the controversial Dowans contract..

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  • Title: Foreign Energy Policy Fuels Famine in Africa | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Foreign Energy Policy Fuels Famine in Africa.. December 8, 2011.. Pambazuka News.. Pambazuka News speaks to Oakland Institute about the findings of their latest round of in-depth research into land grabs in Africa, from the role played by the energy policies of rich countries and the World Bank to the dangers of a development agenda that fails to heed the negative social, economic and environmental impacts of industrial agrofuel and agroforestry projects.. PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Following.. your last set of reports.. , Oakland was looking to understand in greater depth the legal, social and economic implications of land grabs, in particular better data on land availability, better understanding of land deals, and issues around land rights.. You have carried out.. detailed studies on a number of countries in Africa.. : What do they tell us about common themes related to land acquisitions in these countries that we didn't already know? And are there any important differences between the countries studied that would inform any response to these deals?.. OAKLAND INSTITUTE: The new set of research informs us of the following common themes:.. First, energy policies of rich countries play a key role in the current trend of land grabbing:.. The trend of converting fertile African land to agrofuel plantations is accelerating as more governments and corporations promote agrofuels as a solution to climate change and dependency on fossil fuels.. The United States and the European Union, for example, have set targets to replace 30 percent and 10 percent, respectively, of their gasoline with agrofuels.. They both provide subsidies to the agrofuel industry so that these targets can be met: The US government gives US$6 billion a year in federal tax credits to fuel blenders to support ethanol production, and recent European subsidies supporting agrofuel production have topped US$4 billion per year.. Corporations such as Europe's largest airlines – including Lufthansa – are also increasing their reliance on agrofuels purchased from African countries.. This growing market for agrofuels has set off a chain reaction of land grabs in Africa that are displacing people from their homes, draining rivers to the point of extinction and replacing valuable food crops with industrial fuel crops.. Second, so-called solutions to climate change, including carbon trade and carbon credits are green-washing the land grabs that some companies are making through land intensive Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects:.. For example, a Norwegian timber company, Green Resources Ltd.. , plans to replace almost 7,000 hectares of natural Tanzanian grassland with monocultures of pine and eucalyptus that the company would grow to obtain carbon credits to sell to the government of Norway.. In Sierra Leone SLGreen Oil has acquired 40,468 hectares for biodiesel production that will generate carbon credits through the CDM.. Canadian corporation Sierra Gold has obtained 45,527 hectares of forest and grasslands destined for carbon credit programs, including a land-use CDM project that is expected to be worth more than US$714 million over 50 years.. With one hectare being approximately the size of a football field, this accounts for a lot of land.. The expansion of the carbon credit system will generate billions of dollars in profits through the commodification of air and forests, but is likely to turn into a disaster for indigenous and forest dependent communities in Africa who are losing their rights over grazing land and forests, which are essential elements of their livelihoods.. Third, international development agencies are playing a key role:.. So-called 'socially responsible' or 'ethical' investment funds, backed by several western governments, involved with land grabs in Africa.. The trend of large-scale land investment in Sub-Saharan Africa could not take place without World Bank Group support.. The Oakland Institute's research uncovers World Bank Group's orchestration of a business-friendly environment for investor access to land.. From helping attract investors, to shaping policy and law that allows for streamlined and lucrative investor contracts, World Bank Group's agencies – including its private-sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, in conjunction with the Foreign Investment Advisory Service – clearly enable and promote land investment.. PAMBAZUKA NEWS: A sobering point that you make is that there is 'no going back once the damage is done' - once people have been moved off land or virgin forests and grasslands cleared to make way for agroforestry or agrofuel plantations, irreversible damage is caused to human and ecological communities - and the atmosphere.. This means we need to take preventative measures rather than hoping we can reverse actions in the future.. What mechanisms are open to Africans to take a stand against land grabs, when investment in agrofuels is being encouraged even at the African Union Level?.. OAKLAND INSTITUTE: First of all, given the general secrecy surrounding most deals, we have seen over the past few months how important it was to expose land deals and inform communities about what was happening.. For instance, in June 2011 OI released.. a brief on a land deal in South Sudan.. and made the contract available.. Signed in 2008 with the Texas-based firm NTD, the 49-year land lease of 600,000 hectares for US$25,000 includes unencumbered rights to exploit all natural resources in the leased land.. Local communities did not know about this deal until they heard media coverage of the OI report on the local radio, and it is only then, in July 2011, that they started to mobilise against the project.. Similarly,.. OI’s brief.. on the giant agricultural enterprise being developed in Tanzania and known as the AgriSol deal, informed civil society groups and media about this land investment.. Knowledge of this deal, which was being secretly negotiated between US investors and the Tanzanian Prime Minister, has mobilised media and civil society groups locally and internationally, and the matter is now being debated intensely in Parliament.. To state the obvious, in an ideal world, communities should be aware of the deals prior to the signature of contracts between governments and foreign investors.. Ideally an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) study should be conducted in a systematic way, i.. e.. for every large investment, and its results communicated to all those concerned.. Ideally communities should be consulted on that basis, so people can make informed decisions about their land and their future.. Unfortunately, our analysis of over 50 deals in seven countries show that in most cases people are not consulted, or ESIA are generally not conducted, and when they are, they are not made public.. Proper information and consultation of communities is therefore critical.. But it is far from enough: One should not just rely on local communities to take action for the land where they live.. What is urgent is for citizens, civil society organisations, farmer groups, parliaments and political parties to engage with governments and challenge them not just on individual land deals but more broadly on the very policy choices they are making in regards to land investment and agricultural development.. This is what happened in Mozambique where different problems with foreign investors led to a freeze in large land concessions in 2009 (this governmental freeze on land grabs lasted two years, but large-scale investments have resumed in October 2011).. In Tanzania too, the government has actually taken into consideration the interests of the people: some land deals were revised or cancelled because individual ministries weighed the interests of investors against the current and future land needs of the Tanzanians.. Moreover, several of the large-scale investors identified did not obtain the amount of land they requested from the government – for instance the UK firm Sun Biofuels requested 18,000 ha but only obtained 8,200 ha from the government.. At international level, citizens and civil society organisations must also question the development and energy policies pursued by rich countries.. Many of them are encouraging land grabs through these policies and through the direct support they provide to investors.. Furthermore, as seen in Mozambique, USAID has been pushing hard to privatise land and to make it available to foreign interest.. PAMBAZUKA NEWS: In your study of 50 deals in seven countries, you've found no evidence for fair financial returns to countries or their people.. And not only do agrofuels plantations displace food crops, they also need twice as much water.. Weighing the lack of economic benefits against the social and environmental costs, it's irrational for countries to make deals with investors.. What's driving this destructive behaviour? Why are governments so willing to accept poor deals from investors?.. OAKLAND INSTITUTE: Many African governments fervently encourage foreign investment in agricultural land and often offer what some investors have called ‘mouthwatering’ incentives.. Some officials seem to genuinely trust that land deals will spur growth with incoming capital, assist with infrastructure, and create employment for local people.. This belief that large-scale land  ...   to effectively extend its control into rural areas and lacks a regulatory framework for managing an influx of investment.. At the same time, cash strapped new government is supporting land investments, believing that large-scale projects are the quickest way to improve food security and bring in the necessary revenues.. As a result, as long as the agreement has a gloss of legality, the companies can claim that they have obtained leasehold rights.. Companies rarely consult with residents in affected communities, or conduct environmental and social impact assessments, as required by the 2009 Land Act.. Nor do they feel pressure from government institutions to abide by ‘good practice’ social and environmental protections.. In many respects, investments in postwar South Sudan are managed like those during the war: If you have the political and military clout, anything is possible.. This situation is compounded by international financial institutions (IFIs) and donor countries who are encouraging the government of South Sudan to make land available to foreign companies for industrial agriculture.. The government of South Sudan has embarked on a campaign with a consortium of development partners, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to promote agricultural investment in South Sudan, despite the above-mentioned concerns.. PAMBAZUKA NEWS: You looked extensively at the 325,000 ha AgriSol project in Tanzania, that will rely on the relocation of 162,000 people.. In terms of the structure of the deal (price per hectare, length of lease, corporate tax, other incentives), please describe how this shows the way in which these deals are structured in favour of large agribusinesses?.. OAKLAND INSTITUTE: While claiming to benefit Tanzanians and contributing to the country’s food needs, promoting livelihoods of small holder farmers, AgriSol’s internal documents reveal its true intent and the true cost for Tanzania in promoting such foreign investments.. For instance, our new Brief rebutting Agrisol’s PR campaign reveals:.. - AgriSol Energy will pay Tanzania.. 55 cents a hectare in fees and rent for a 99 years lease.. - AgriSol’s push for ‘Strategic Investor Status’ includes its demand to receive incentives including a waiver of duties on diesel, agricultural and industrial equipment and supplies ; a 30 per cent exemption from corporate tax, production of agrofuels, and request of the government to commit and provide a timetable for the construction of a rail link for Mishamo.. - Its feasibility studies call for it to negotiate with the government for input subsidies, which for now are targeted for the smallholder Tanzanian farmers.. This demand will divert scarce public resources from smallholders to large foreign investors.. - The model of ‘modern agriculture’ envisioned by Serengeti and AgriSol links crop production, livestock production, and agrofuel production through partnerships among various agribusiness conglomerates in the value chain.. Its partners include Monsanto, Stine, and John Deere, among many others (as evident from the slide presentation to its investors) and the application of this model in Tanzania will basically open the country to a massive influx of the world’s largest agribusiness companies.. PAMBAZUKA NEWS: You raise an interesting point about the relationship between the structural adjustment programmes of the last three decades and current land grabs in Zambia.. How have SAPs paved the way for land acquisitions to take place?.. OAKLAND INSTITUTE: As evidenced in our country report, during Zambia’s economic crisis of the 1970s/80s, World Bank/IMF SAPs were forced upon Zambia in 1990s, as a condition of debt-servicing loans.. These loans came attached with conditionalities including efforts to promote economic liberalisation, privatisation, and foreign investment.. This resulted in Lands Act passed by the Parliament in 1995 which facilitates investment in mining, agriculture, and tourism and with its passing, land could now be bought and sold freely like a commodity.. Traditional leaders, civil society, church leaders, and other stakeholders expressed concern with the Bill, arguing it would put poor people at a disadvantage and undermine the authority of traditional leaders with regards to administration of customary land.. The Lands Act combined reserve/trustland into customary land, strengthened state leasehold rights at the expense of customary rights, eased restrictions on foreign ownership of land, facilitated the conversion of land from customary to state, and removed the ability of the state to repossess undeveloped land.. In 1996, the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) was formed to be a ‘one-stop shop’ to facilitate private investment, to privatise state assets, and assist investors through various government processes while the creation of the Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC) was a requirement of the 1995 Investment Act, mandated by the WB/IMF’s PIRC II loan.. PAMBAZUKA NEWS: You mention that the World Bank’s policy glosses over critical issues of human rights, food security and human dignity, while the IFC’s ‘Performance Standards for Social and Environmental Responsibility’ lack appropriate measures on community engagement, transparency and human rights.. To what extent do you think that the inclusion of such criteria would compel investors and governments to implement ‘responsible’ land acquisition deals?.. OAKLAND INSTITUTE: If the World Bank was to emphasise human rights, food security, and human dignity, it would mean it would stop advocating for investor friendly climate at all costs.. Its ‘doing business’ ranking would be based on the prevalence of social and environmental standards instead of the lack of such basic principles.. While that might not compel investors and governments to implement responsible land acquisitions, deals, it would definitely take away the pressure that “development” agencies have over the poor country governments.. PAMBAZUKA NEWS: You’ve said in the past that decisions about how to use water and land resources in Africa for Africans should be determined by Africans through democratic processes.. What examples of good practice we can build or draw on?.. OAKLAND INSTITUTE: Our new research shows that unlike large-scale irrigation, a focus on efficient small-scale irrigation, sustainable agriculture and water management methods can improve the lives of local smallholders, enhance food security and prevent environmental degradation from water depletion.. All over Africa, sustainable water management and smallholder irrigation schemes have led to substantial increases in crop yields.. For instance, In Zimbabwe, sustainable water management and water harvesting systems such as those established by the Zvishavane Water Resources Project have proven very effective in increasing yields, building resilience to climate shocks and improving income and food security.. In Burkina Faso like in other Sahelian countries, the introduction of Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) techniques such as planting pits (i.. zai), stone lines (i.. bunds) and level permeable rock dams has led to enhanced productivity, economic security, population stability, enhanced biodiversity and improved water tables.. With the introduction of such techniques in the 1980s, farmers achieved 50-60 percent higher yields of both millet and sorghum.. - In Mali, the establishment of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) among smallholders in the region of Timbuktu resulted in reduced quantity of water used while rice yields increased to 9 metric tons per hectare, an increase of 50 to 100 percent over yields obtained under conventional irrigated production techniques.. - In Ghana, the production of staples such as millet and sorghum show, on average, better yields under small-scale irrigation than under large-scale irrigation.. Research has showed that small-scale irrigation in Ghana contributed to 1.. 5 metric ton / hectare of millet compared to 0.. 50 metric ton / hectare under large-scale irrigation.. - In Kenya, biointensive agriculture, a low-cost agricultural technology designed for small farmers, has been shown to use 70 to 90 percent less water than conventional agriculture (due to the establishment of higher soil organic matter levels, continuous soil coverage by crops, and adequate fertility for root and plant health).. - In Lesotho, the improvement in peasants’ access to the water supply and the use of small-scale irrigation technologies, such as drip irrigation and treadle pumps have improved water conservation and the crop yields of subsistence farmers, who have been increasingly able to sell excess produce in the local market.. PAMBAZUKA NEWS: What has the Oakland Institute have in store for us in the next period?.. OAKLAND INSTITUTE: Stay Tuned ☺.. NEW REPORTS:.. Special Investigation Phase Two: Understanding How Land Deals Contribute to Famine and Conflict in Africa.. COUNTRY REPORTS:.. Mozambique.. Tanzania.. Zambia.. NEWS BRIEFS:.. The Role of False Climate Change Solutions.. The Myth of Economic Development.. The Myth of Job Creation.. The Role of the World Bank Group.. Eight Myths and Facts About AgriSol Energy in Tanzania.. Land Grabs Leave Africa Thirsty.. The Role of Development Agencies.. BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS.. * The.. is an independent policy think tank, bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.. * Responses to Pambazuka’s questions were provided by Oakland Institute’s David Deng, Felix Horne, Frederic Mousseau and Anuradha Mittal..

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  • Title: Land-Grabbing in Tanzania Takes Hold! | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: Land-Grabbing in Tanzania Takes Hold!.. Business Times.. Going dirt cheap for bio-investors, costly for locals.. WITH the spectre of land-grabbing looming larger and larger across Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, the menace is already full of oddities.. In Tanzania, for instance, while ordinary folk pay between Tsh250,000 and Tsh2.. 5 million to lease one acre of land for a year, investors in so-called 'biofuel' projects can lease the same acre for a measly Tsh700, Business Times has learned!.. Lease land in both rural and urban Tanzania is available for up up 99 years.. The secretary-general of ActionAid, Marco de Ponte, revealed this during an on-line interview with Business Times on land grabbing and its consequences on food security.. Land-grabbing is a result of exclusive policies among African Governments, including Tanzania's, whereby investors are given priority in accessing land, while locals have to struggle on their own to get land!.. With foreign companies buying vast tracts of land at dirt-cheap prices, the number of displaced people is already increasing alarmingly.. Locals are all kicked out from their fertile land and end up living on infertile land, de Ponte laments.. “Most of the poor people are at risk of losing the land that they have farmed and lived on for generations to make way for biofuel crops production, much of which would be shipped back to Europe,” de Ponte said.. For example, the Iowa-based investor Bruce Rastetter and fellow investors in the industrial-agricultural corporation Agrisol Energy have their sights on 800,000 acres (325,000 hectares) of land in Tanzania that is already home to 162,000 people!.. The World Bank estimates that demand for biofuel feed-stocks is a major factor for world agriculture, with land conversion for biofuels by 2030 estimated to range between 18-and-44 million hectares (ha).. Global biofuel consumption is estimated to jump from about 70 billion litres in 2008 to 250 billion litres in 2020.. For the EU, the increase will be steeper: from 13 billion to about 55 billion litres.. To meet the EU's ten per cent target alone, the total land area directly required to grow industrial biofuels in developing countries could reach 17..  ...   Government to take its time in making a decision on the proposed 99-year lease.. "I would say I am more on the side of it as an opportunity that should be handled with extreme care.. I am not sure that it is being handled with appropriate care.. These are areas that were not empty; there are people that are having to be moved, and so on.. There has not been, as far as I know, a very clear analysis of the social and environmental impact.. So, I think the Government may be moving a little bit quickly and perhaps precipitously," she said.. Brautigam said that, in the post-colonial era, governments tried but failed to establish successful large-scale government farms.. She says after subsequent years of having mainly small scale farms with low productivity, there is now a push for export-driven commercialized agriculture.. Brautigam says Tanzanians should be much more informed about these issues, as well as US officials, since Agrisol Energy is an American company.. "What is it that we are doing? Will this be harmful for food security in Tanzania? Have all of the possible ramifications of this kind of investment been addressed? We are a country that cares about poverty.. We are putting a lot of effort into assisting Tanzania to move out of poverty.. Is this kind of project something that will help ? or is it, as many people fear, something that will hurt?" she soliloquized.. In recent weeks, opposition leaders in Tanzania have also been speaking out against the proposed lease.. Meshack Opulukwa from the opposition Party for Democracy Development (ChaDeMa) told the country's National Assembly that “increased food production is no justification for taking away land from villagers.. “The displacements would increase the likelihood of conflicts between farmers and pastoralists,” Opulukwa also said, adding that “Tanzania has no problem with food shortages but, rather, with infrastructure and moving food around.. ”.. On its website, Agrisol Energy says it anticipates starting development of the acquired Tanzanian land in late 2011.. Now, it seems that date will at least be pushed back.. Activists and opposition leaders sincerely hope the proposed lease is never finalized!..

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  • Title: At the Nexus of Agrofuels, Land Grabs and Hunger – Part 2 | oaklandinstitute.org
    Descriptive info: At the Nexus of Agrofuels, Land Grabs and Hunger – Part 2.. December 7, 2011.. IPS.. Read At the Nexus of Agrofuels, Land Grabs and Hunger – Part I.. By Kanya D'Almeida.. Philippi residents grow organic produce for sale to upmarket restaurants in Cape Town as well as for their own table.. Credit:Kristin Palitza/IPS.. WASHINGTON, Dec 7, 2011 (IPS) - The forests in Africa absorb over 1.. 2 billion tonnes of carbon annually.. With these diverse and natural forests, grasslands and prairie lands disappearing under investment schemes and the development of monoculture plantations for supposed "green" energy alternatives like agrofuels, not much else remains to absorb the shocks of hunger and climate change.. "Whether they are for energy or for exports on global markets, monocropping schemes are really testing the limits of the ecosystems," Olivier De Schutter, the U.. N.. 's special rapporteur on the right to food, told IPS.. "They are thirsty in water, fail to regenerate the soils and often result in an overuse of pesticides because the natural defences of nature (thanks to the diversity of plants) are missing.. ".. "Raising food production 70 percent by 2050 is a figure habitually wheeled out," he added.. "Fertiliser and pesticide-driven yield increases, coupled with the ploughing up of rainforests and other remaining carbon sinks, could just about squeeze the extra tonnage of food out of the earth before the self-sustaining capacities of ecosystems are fully saturated.. Any approach of this nature is a race against time that will eventually be lost, and through which we will only accelerate the onset of climate change and its potential to devastate harvests," he said.. In a.. to the U.. Human Rights Council back in 2010, De Schutter presented comprehensive data on the need for agroecology: traditional practices that enhance soil productivity and use beneficial trees, plants, animals and insects to ward off pests rather than relying on fertiliser.. "To date, agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80 percent in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116 percent for all African projects," De Schutter said.. "Recent projects conducted in 20 African countries demonstrated a doubling of crop yields over a period of three to 10 years.. "The tragedy of rushing headlong into a second 'green revolution', where industrial solutions are sought on a global scale, is that other solutions are literally right within our grasp," he told IPS.. Very little capital would be required to promote agroecological practices, but the land grab in Africa, fueled by the rush for carbon reducing alternatives, has been coupled with blanket tax holidays for the multinationals buying up the continents' land, effectively robbing many impoverished states of desperately needed domestic revenues that could be invested in local development schemes, critics say.. For example, the U.. -based Oakland Institute found that the government of Mozambique is offering generous.. fiscal incentives.. to a firm called EmVest Asset Management, which is on the verge of swallowing 2,000 hectares of the country's land for crop  ...   hectares of land to the Saudi Star for free over a 60- year period, while Mali leased 100,000 hectares for free over a similar time period.. "Our research found that actors like the World Bank Group (WBG) and the U.. Agency for International Development (USAID) not only push governments to privatise land but also work to change local legal systems of land tenure," Frederic Mousseau, the policy director of the Oakland Institute, told IPS.. In numerous African countries, WBG officials work closely with national governments to quietly overturn the few flimsy laws that peasants and farmers had hitherto held as the only protection of their basic land rights.. Back in 2007, Susan Hume, the country manager for Mozambique,.. urged the government.. to reconsider its property rights, speed up VAT refunds for private firms and adopt a "guillotine" on land licenses, adding, "The World Bank would be pleased to assist the government in this process, through Technical Assistance and with help from the Foreign Investment Advisory Service.. "By publishing this research on the relationship between the land grab, climate change, energy policies and investment practices, we're trying to break the "silo" approach to development that looks at each issue independently of the other," Mousseau told IPS.. "We feel it's important to challenge the development paradigm that is 'marketing' and privatising land and we hope this research promotes the return to communally owned land," he said.. Activists echoing these sentiments have teamed up with grassroots networks and coalitions in Durban to draw together these ideas under the banner of ecosocialism, a nascent global movement that is agitating for economic transformation with earth rights as a central guiding principle.. Joel Kovel, co-founder of the U.. -based Ecosocialist Horizons, told a.. convergence.. of hundreds of peasants and farm workers in Durban last week that capitalism began with the enclosure of the commons.. "Examples like the Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.. is people's attempt to reclaim these commons and reassert control over the means of production," Kovel told IPS.. "Capitalism cannot be reformed, nor can it be voted out of power.. It can only be defeated by the creation and proliferation of autonomous zones of eco- socialist transformation and production, which have earth rights at their centre.. "This is what we need to build now.. This is what we're building in the U.. and South Africa, while the U.. gambles away our collective future," he added.. "People on the streets of South Africa are calling the U.. talks 'genocidal'," Quincy Saul, author of "Reflections of Crisis: The Great Depression in the 21st Century", told IPS.. Quoting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Saul added, "By delaying a binding agreement on global warming to 2020, the U.. is effectively.. condemning.. 100 million Africans to death by the end of the century.. "To the majority of people on this continent, the U.. is no different from Wall Street: it is the one percent," he said.. *This is the second of a two-part series on biofuels, industrialised agriculture and hunger..

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