“Thoughts from the Well” observes: Food insecurity is often directly linked to land ownership.
Sullivan’s article is specific to the Middle East severe food security issues. This is an important article for that region, but also globally.
The practice of owning large tracts of land for sake of raising animals/crops for export market profits has been around a long time. Enclosure Acts that turned food land to sheep pasture; British colonization in Caribbean for sugar plantations, (which played a role to get slave trade going); and British control of food production land in Ireland (linked in part to disastrous potato famine). Francis Moore Lappe’s “Food First” (co-authored, published early ’70s?) reported on this re famine in Africa (link). At present time, prestigious US university endowment funds are often invested in these purchases, (general practice, scope and consequences, link1); (specific to Harvard’s massive involvement, see link2.)
Results to local populations include (1) a shift in their lives from farmer/operators to farm laborers, (2) (mechanized monoculture practices drive many displaced to cities), and (3) reduced variety of locally available health-giving foodstuffs, which in turn puts (4) pressure on local food prices. Further to mechanized mono-cultural practices, (5) soil is ‘mined’ rather than nourished, (6) irrigation demands divert water to for-export-profit intentions. (7) Transportation and distribution of agricultural products shifts to long-distance delivery infrastructure of locally raised crops.
The Arab Spring nations, such as Egypt and Syria, have struggled with food security:
The food import dependence and lack of foreign exchange is all the more worrying as the global food crisis of 2008 [seen above] has shown a diminished reliability of global food markets. Not only did prices skyrocket, some agricultural exporters like Argentina, Russia, and Vietnam announced export restrictions out of concern for their own food security. Naturally this sent shock waves through the Middle East, which imports a third of globally traded cereals.
The oil rich Gulf countries reacted by announcing investments in farmland abroad to secure privileged bilateral access to food production. Only a fraction of these investments has gotten off the ground, yet they have been controversial as they have been mostly announced in developing countries like Sudan or Pakistan that have severe food security issues themselves.
Lily Kuo has more details on the buying…
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