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Land Grabs in Africa compared to the “wild west”

José Graziano da Silva, the FAO's director general, has compared the land grab deals in Africa to the “wild west,” saying a "sheriff" is needed to restore the rule of law. Large land deals have accelerated since the surge in food prices in 2007-08, prompting companies and sovereign wealth funds to take steps to guarantee food supplies. 

But, four to five years on, in Africa only 10–15% of land is actually being developed, claimed the FAO director general. Some of these investments have involved the loss of jobs, as labour intensive farming is replaced by mechanised farming or some degree of loss of tenure rights.

In May of this year, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) endorsed a set of global guidelines aimed at helping governments safeguard the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries. But these guidelines took years to negotiate and lack an effective enforcement mechanism since they are voluntary. For Graziano da Silva, the key is the implementation of the voluntary guidelines at the country level; he is encouraged by growing public interest and awareness of the issue.

To read the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure, click here.

To read the press release, click here.

For The Guardian article, click here.

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