June 13, 2011

“Land grab in Africa: Ethiopia lost area the size of Israel”

by Bruce Krasting | Everyone who eats is aware that agricultural prices have been on a tear the past few years. With this has come a sharp increase in the value of arable land. Deep topsoil farmland in Iowa has changed hands as high as $11,000 an acre recently. That’s up from about $6,000 just a few years ago.

The shortage of arable land has gone global. Africa has seen an explosion of activity since 2008. How big is the land grab? Who’s doing the grabbing? It’s hard to tell as there is no central source of information and many of the transactions are not made public. An outfit called the Oakland Institute has been compiling information on this. From their June 8 press release:
The scale, rate and negative impact of land deals is alarming. In 2009 alone nearly 60 million ha– an area the size of France– was purchased or leased in comparison to an average annual expansion of global agricultural land of less than 4 million ha before 2008.

Consider these three maps. They describe the scope of what has happened in Mali, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia.



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