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Thursday 08 November 2012

Land grabbing, foreign investment and Nigerian agriculture

Oblt'll IS a $)"lIlIocaIcd CQlumnist.

co-founda nflhf Youth C<rMI'UUm for F'ropess and one 0( the pmcran ~ for The H.arnbc Incub.1Or

r.. Su5lamable and RtnI Devdopmml (1IiSARD) tobui~h.f1lmbr;nlrena


SI weel on this colllmn,


I ,hed $Orne light on the rke revolUilon and Ihf'

n Dominion Farms, an kJaholTUl~based farming company. 15 playing 10 buIkI A!riea', la~ rice fMlll in coUaborntion with Nip's ~lini5tryof AgrkuIIure. News like lhis ha." hoo...'evet been receivl!d dirrerenliyby Nigerl"'15. lllC renewro Imeress: In agrtbllsines'5 and Invest ment - largdy In II~ aftermath of the global finandal emis of 2005· 2006 and the incH'3.W In \"Otatility of food pri1:e5 - has ~ some decry what they M\'e called 1M -~-colonis:lljoo of Afnc3" 01" the ·New Scramble fOl"

dIrector al the Food andAgrkuhural Organlsadon (FAO), DavId HaUam. -could be a win·win slnlaUon or It could be II son of neocolonialism wilh disastrous ronsequences." r-or marty~mmt5. thewtn win rhetoric has predominated the political dl$course M the growth of agribusiness and the 3gricuhurai economy and dip. t:reation of many development opponunltles have ~ died iJSsome ofthedhid~ offomgn investmenL Other tOUled dividend! Include the acqulsillon of skills. the use of more effident and medwlised fannlll8 method!, and the I~ In domestlt" food securily_In Nigeria. the ilOf)' or the Shonga Fanru: In KWlIIlI Slale and how Zimbabwean farmeD tlOlns· formed the agncul! sector in the ~lIte has ~ presented lIS a moo:k!1 and a plus lOr folt'lgn Ill\o'OM!ment and elll:pettise by pro· lnvestment Individuals. Ilut many Nigerllln~ and Inter· nationlll bodies continue to cry foul International NCO Odam has also petitioned the World Bank 10 take stringenl measures to stop the pace

of 1~--scaIe acquisitions or land on

the AIriClin continenL According 10 Nigerian wrttl":r Abdulaziz Abdllilltif, the foreign acquisition of Nigerian farm1a.ttds ha55e1'V1'!d 10 -dispos5ess the Iocalsof their lands In the name or pmmolf",ngriculrurnlllT~mmt, poM· sion of hOllslng estates, and indll5lrinl re\'Olution.-ln an Interview conducted last yellr by GRAIN, an international NGO,OlaseInder.tabnjuolaArigbede oflheUnitedSmalland~ledlum


Fanners' Associations of Nigeria (US· MEFAN) said the material fJO'\"M)'


Nigerian smallholder Farmers "15 osu· ally~lolted bygovemments IIOd Iheir

local and foreign land gJOIbbers.'" lhgfllg a rethlnkof theroncqx 0( a wln· win "I'

It is our responsibiJily to make sure that land

acquisitions are truly a win-win [or everyone alo ng the Nigerian agricultural value chain


Nlgerlill1 smallholder fanlle~

With water !Carclty In the Gul! counmes, the tiut!31 0(1000 insecurity has dril'ell many counllies 10 Ahb anble land and ""<ller am be more easily acquired. But countries in t\si;I. 115 wdI as 1M United S.ales, han~ IKIl been left out of this '10100-


grabbing' trend. In concert wllh goo.-emmenl5, th~ foreign investon have been able to actluire I~ plou of land (50metll1W!S even as large 85 thousands of hectares) to grow lumlw-"r agrlcuhl1l1ll eut~ Thn new development, DlUtions a depuly



Vlv. a rellred lieulefllml-colonel. wnles (rom O/(o/(omlll/(o, Lagos

n rec:ent decades. particularly sinO! the end of the Cold War In 1989, a majority of interna· tional conflicts have been re50lved either without UN Intervention or whhout a decisive UN intcrvcn· tion.ln the lJalkanJlln the nineties. the UN was weak ilnd Ineffec· tive. It was NATO, the European Union and American muscle that eventually turned the rabies and ensured a decisive outcome in favour of International peace and security. The International Secm;IY Assistance Force (ISM) in Afghanistan is a NATO appa ralUs thaI is currently managing 10 dcstTO) the Tallban and build a post.conflici environment in that country. Ahhough nominally the Uniled Nations was pn:scnl in Iraq In 2003, II was the preponderana 01 the ,\merh:an contingent that brought about a decisive outcome. In Ivory Coasl and Sierra Leone it was the French and the British


ricul~ de-YeIoiJtnent coalition, he descn"bed the term RAJ (Rcsponsibk AgricuIruraJ InveSlfnenf) a!IIa subter lUgt'designed to "hoodwink Afriat and lnate crime w.:ar the prmenl3 of satvation." 'Ie also questic:JrM!d the govemmenl's hO!(JitalilY 10 foreign investors over the years COnlra.<;Iing It with the tl1!illment Nigerian illdig. enous farmns hU\-e rea:ivnt rrom the goyemrnrnL

In his words, !he same g.:wem menl3thal nc-gIectedtheirown farmen provided these 'magica1' South African fanners with all imaginable forms or suppon: CJl!dlt guarantees, hundreds of he<:llIfI:S of farmland practic&IIyl"or f~,acceMlolcrtlllsen and ~ Inpul5, newty tarred roads &um their farm" freedom 10 rqJ3trialeeaminp. e1C. Beyuod this, the nt'W farmers hne had IlI1 inerlJaUSlible supply of cheap labom ~ condi· tJlms of work cannot be 5C'Ulinisro by any media or reponer and woo hmtellfllheenn1iowedlofonnor}oin unions to protect their interests !'rom farmersftnmsuchbadq;roundll5t11i11 oftheespelled Sotlth At'rican falTJler1 We now know thar these ' magical' fanners are moving ~ from pro· ducingSlal,te crops thai mighl boost foodsecuritylntheCUUllltylOthek!ss exacting work of livestock farmin~ especially poultry· As t~ FAO DG points OUI, laud acqUisition or r;mbbing, deJK!lld Ing on how you look al it _ b: !IOW a reaUlY thaI cannot be done away with. Howrver, a~ he advises, what we can do Is Umll and regulale Ihe prnctice to ensure that the interesL~ of smallhokler fnnners are upheld. Arigbede's arglJlnenlS above ID fa · row of smaJlhnhler farmers ~ not without merit and indeed provide us withsome ~riOliS food for thooghtto

;soquisitioooCN"l8J!fian 1armI3I1d1lc.· axdlngtolhewri1erSu!" JnnIonJ,Ihe cHspIlICeITleOIoOoClII ~inbrge· 8CIlIelandacquisitions15dcrrirnental to agricuhure 115 it dc$tmys the very keylofoodsecurityllnddtmate-sman mgricullure " small scale so<;lainable Itgriculture b.. lt~ hy Iocallarm Ing knowI~ lhis context enahles U!I' 10 prop erIy assess the n!Cefl1 public-private pUlnership between the r-edt'r.ll ~t and l>ominion I~ Thisisnofanindepexien!pru;edasil Isportorlbegowoerrull('l'lt'S~poIicy

IIlllMlmp the rice VlIllle chidn. 1o& I mentionedb5tweek.Itndl!fthe~

ment. 10 pen:rnt of the IlIrgetcd land in Tarnba SloIle will !;O to Dominion Farms while the larger portion of the land (9O I0 percml) will becontr.lC1ed Iftn to Joc:al fanners. By virtue of Do minion Fanns' respon.'o;ibiJily 10 tr.tin )'uungSfUC\enQin farmingltldtniqlles In Ken}'3 and then Ilb50rh them inl!) the enterprise or "fillip them for owning their own entl!f1lri5e5. Ihl.'le is already a demonstrntl"tl commit ment tusupportin:s and building Ioral valls. ~ and ('11!~ On these counlS, t~ pannconhlp With Oominion Famts is 11<11 )'OW typfcaI land grnbbingpro;en I 'fnvever; W\" willal'\(l n£'e(l 10 as· certain the smallholden' e:xperieoce Mparlohhispmfecton!henx2sures IhatArigbedepuillUlftll ' prufMbiIiIy, bargaining and competili"" polen· tial access b:I CI'1!'dIt. input. mariler5. Infra~ruc:ture.. A.~ we wurk tow;um self SlIflicieocyunda- a Intlytral'lSfor matiYcumbreDa. ilisom rt'!.'IIKKlSibil ity 10 make sure that land atquisitions aretrulyawin-winfor~aJung

the Nigerian vruue chain.

Smd rndiHs 10;

~~~~:~~~~~~~~~~~~__-'heI~p~m:::':h'~""""""'~::~"'~"~'~"~'~"""""""':a~'{)Il11fE..COnt The Syrian conundrum and the United Nations (2) who brought in the decis-h'e ele· ment. lhe UN failed woefully to prevent or mitigute the Rwandan genodde In 1994. Increasingly, regional bl1>C5, apl,arently aware of Ihe UN's increasing irrelevance, hnve begun to appredale the sltua· tion lind have therefore begun to take more responsibility for security within their lerritories. ECOWAS, for Instance, was ef· fective in seeing Charles Taylor offln Uberia in the nineties and early 2000s. Today, ECOWAS Is nOllVlIiling for the UN in MIIII. In Mall the ECQWAS, perhaps out of experience, is showing more sophlstlcatlon and I!lan there and Is headed in a direction thaI gI~ confidence in the regional body's ability 10 resolve confUclS within ilJl own bloc. In Syria today, where the so · calll":d Arab Sprln(it came to a screeching halt In April 2011, after more or less successfully passing through Tunisia. Ubya and Egypt, the UN hu proved itself once more unrl":lIable. 11le vacuum thus crellted has, however, been laken up by Syria's neighbours, notably Turkey, Jordan and members of the Arab League. They have run to the V<1nguard of efforts to not only

mitjgule Ihe collaleral damage, hut also to hrlng about an equitable and sustainable outcome. f-or tens of lhousands dead and hundreds of thousands more suffering directly from Ihe war, however, these t'fTorl3 are t:omhlg 100 late. 'Ihr first lutempt by the UN 10 intervene in Ihe Syrian conflict fell Oat on its face. No Jess a pcr.;on lhan Kofi Mnan, the former secrelary· general, was appointed by the organlsalion to lead the eHon for lhe resolution of the conflict. After six monthsln the job. Annan resigned. Ills resignation saysmuch, not only orhls frustralion with his faUU1'e 10 make headWilY. but also of his loss offailh In tJleorpnlsation of which he ret:ently was its chief protagonist. Today, we have a renowned retired Algerian diplomat. Lakhdar Brahimi, who Is curiollslydescribetl as a UN· l\mlJ League envoy, all Kofi Annan's replaccment on the Syrian beal. 8rahhni Is now in his third month {tn the job. He apparenliy believes lilal in the circums;tances he ","ould consider his lob done If he Is ablr only 10 keep diplomatic channels opl":n. Were he able to produce any tangibl!" resull, that would bl! a bonus. Rrahlml's COli stant motion remInds one ofllcllry KiMlngcr's shutLle diplomacy duro ing the Vllm Kippw War betweeo

the Slate of t"rcal and Arab annies in 1973. Brnhlml's first anempt 10 move from conslant motion to actual accomplishment, his at tempt to broker a aasefire using theopponunltyoftJle recent 'd.el · Kabir last week was a spectacular failure. 0111 Ornhiml did not miss a beal. lie simply gassed up and cruised to DelJlng. flom where, reporledly, he would be moving to Moscow, etc. H ill impurtant 10 be fair 10 Brahim!. The situation in Syria is a complelll: oue. It sure needs 8rahlmi's hroadmindedness. lhe coomct l'> cUITcnliy mging in an Intensive mililary phase.. My lake on the warring panics, Assad's forces and the so-called opposi . Uon forces. Is that ncitherskle had any idea what Ihey were getting Into when they allowed each olller to be drawn Into a vicious military duelling. although much of the responsihility for thai belongs 10 8ashar Assad, who, up till Illisday, remains Ule de jure head of Slate of the Syrian Arab Republic and commander in· ch;cf of itJ; armed forces, with a lested standinganny of about <100,000 men. '-ssad prob ably pre5l1med that destroying the opposition would be a walkuvcr. Experienced. well Irnined, di!J-ciplincd and profCMluIllU military

officers are ai""lJYS very re/uctant 10 InitJale, and CUT1!ful about illi tjaUng. military hoslilities of any kind for one simple reason. lhcy are aware. more than most people. of the cOll5Cqueno:s nUl just for their IrOOl's, but more impor lantly, for tile illnocent, vulnerahle JX!Ople who will 8t.'1 caught up In the Dgbting: non combatants and civilian!, induding women, thl": young. the old, who will be killed. maimed, displaced or otherwise made 10 suRer for years or generations. If AssItd had any good military advice, he would not in good conscience use his well. respected military against, supposedly, llis own people.. For their pan. the Syrian oppositKm now fighting for dlCir lives against IheSyrian military mosl probably hoped that their struggle will follow the same paltern as those of odtcr preceding Arab SprinG struggles such as 1\lOisia, Uby;I and EgypL In Ubya, for Inslana:, where Muammar Gaddafi chose 10 do what A:uad Is doh'S now in Syria, the world pm":"", IlOlabty USA and UK, provldrd military equity whidt eventually fumed the tables against Gi"lddafi..