By Gwynne Dyer
New Zealand Herald
In the past two years, various non-African countries – China, India, South Korea, Britain and the Arab Gulf states lead the pack – have been taking over huge tracts of farmland in Africa by lease or purchase, to produce food or biofuels for their own use. Critics call them “neo-colonialists,” but they will not be as successful as the old ones.
The scale of the land grab is truly impressive. In Sudan, South Korea has acquired 690,000ha of land to grow wheat. The United Arab Emirates, which already has 30,000ha in Sudan, is investing in another 378,000ha to grow corn, alfalfa, wheat, potatoes and beans.
In Tanzania, Saudi Arabia is seeking 500,000ha.
Even bigger chunks of land are being leased to produce biofuels.
China has acquired 2.8 million hectares in the Democratic Republic of Congo to create the world’s largest oil-palm plantation (replacing all that messy rainforest and useless wildlife with tidy lines of palm trees), and is negotiating for 2 million hectares in Zambia to grow jatropha. British firms have secured big tracts of land in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania.
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