Food and energy security and the volatility of global commodity prices remain long-term concerns for most countries. Nevertheless long-term factors have also driven the recent surge of investment on agricultural land. Several countries EU Community, USA, and Brazil have set targets on the use of renewable energy to reduce their dependence on foreign oil and address climate change and so governments offer financial incentives to their companies and stimulate private investment to produce agro-fuels overseas that, by the way may lead to increased food prices and, thereby, threaten the food security of local communities.
Among the long-term factors, water is one of the most significant drivers.
Land grabs: Explaining the issue is no simple matter | Oxfam Canada
In some parts of the world, like the Gulf States, water from economically important river basins and aquifers is already overused, severely limiting the possibilities of increasing the quantity of water for irrigation. Land and water are the main resources of farming families. In addition to this, the large irrigation canals, deplete the deep layers of water and may result in permanently destroying water basins that are crucial for both the region's biodiversity and traditional ways of life.
Farmers lose their land and the way of life they have lived by for generations; they lose access to resources including areas for farming, grazing, fishing, hunting, gathering mushrooms, herbs, nuts, fruits, honey and other foods , collecting firewood and materials for various activities. Without land they are obliged to become daily laborers or tenants; but even these opportunities are becoming scarce and they are forced to migrate oversees or to urban areas where they are not always able to secure a job, and often end up living on the margins of society.
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Local communities often recount that the most painful thing for them is the loss of the land of their ancestors and of some sites with a strong spiritual connotation where they perform traditional ceremonies. As the case of Egypt and southern neighbours suggests, we must also look beyond farmland to understand the value of fertile agricultural land to investors — and what the implications are and may be for community and national sovereignty.
The role of the Egyptian financial firm, Citadel Capital, in the regional East-North Africa land grab points to the real and potential dire implications of the rush for land and other resources for food security and livelihoods. Citadel Capital has been acquiring and attempting to acquire lease rights over fertile agricultural land communal state lands , access to vital irrigation water and prospecting rights for precious metals and oil in Sudan, South Sudan and other southern neighbouring countries.
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More than this, significantly and alarmingly, the firm has been building a transportation corridor through and out of the region. Taking advantage of crises for private wealth accumulation and hegemonic state system concretization is of course nothing new in the annals of capitalism, and today is exemplified perhaps by large-scale investments in the former Sudan.
The rush to invest began in the immediate aftermath of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement CPA in that ended the brutal civil war, and then the former Sudan became a primary destination of land grabbers in the wake of the crisis. A historical look at the emergence of Citadel Capital as a land grabber suggests that South-South land grabbing has emerged out of processes long in the works that have consolidated the formal economies of originating grabbing countries.
In Egypt Citadel Capital is one financial firm among an emergent class of finance capitalists that took an active role in the last wave of consolidation of the agri-food and other formal economic sectors in Egypt since the big push toward privatization and liberalization in the early s. This is an incredible story about a man wanting to help the city he lives in and the resistance he encounters while doing this. The saddest part is the people resisting have no ideas and are not willing to take action to change anything, they just want to say no.
An amazing story of perseverance where a lot of people would have quit or given up.
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