Land Grabs: Opportunity for whom?
The land grabbing phenomenon is ripe with controversy. The acquisition of land iscritiqued for
contributing to the African development dilemma of the ‘paradox of plenty’,
inwhich the resource-rich continent lacks economic development (Carmody,2011,p.2). GRAIN,one of the leading NGOs in the criticism of land grabs, describes this influx of capital andattention
hungry countries’ as being “reminiscent of Europe’s initial colonial
(GRAIN,2007,p.36), thereby perpetuating the dependency of the continent on itsnatural resources, rather than priming it for expansion into other sectors. The dependency
theory explores this “
exploitative [relationship], simultaneously creating wealth at one of itspoles, the metropolis, or the centre, and poverty at the other pole, or the periphery,
(Friedmann& Wayne,1977,p.401)noting that this asymmetrical relationship between societies has becomepart and parcel of the growth of capitalism. This essay will thus be approached through thetheoretical lens of the dependency theory.One of the contributing factors behind the scramble for land was the food crisis in 2008and the subsequent US and EU energy policy reforms to have renewable energy account for20% of their total supply (Tanzania Daily News,2011).This set off a chain reaction encouragingother states to re-direct their attention to biofuel production in Africa. However, despite thehype and attention given to the increase in interest in the once-
, an increasingnumber of Africans are being negatively affected as a result of land acquisition.
Described as being, “irrational at best and violent at worst,”
(Abate,2011b) many groupsare campaigning against the potential devastation that is increasingly becoming synonymouswith land grabbing (GRAIN,2007,p.36). The infamous example that portrays the intensity of thescramble and also the local struggle against foreign invasion of international companies is that of the South Korean company,
Daewoo’s dealings in
Madagascar. In November 2008, Daewoosecured a 99-year lease of over 1.3million hectares of land. The revelation that the companyplanned to simply export all of its goods back to South Korea without any foreseeable benefits