Posts Tagged ‘International Food Policy Research Institute’
[I wrote this article three years ago revealing a global land grab by rich investors that is now estimated to be more than 200 million hectares - my recent update here - Stephen]
By Stephen Leahy*
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, USA, May 5 , 2009 (Tierramérica)
More than 20 million hectares of farmland in Africa and Latin America are now in the hands of foreign governments and companies, a sign of a global “land grab” that got a boost from last year’s food crisis.
Rich countries that are short on land or water at home are looking to secure food-producing lands elsewhere as a way to ensure food security for their populations, said Joachim von Braun, director of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
“There is a major lack of transparency in these land deals,” von Braun said in a telephone press conference from Washington.
The IFPRI study, “‘Land Grabbing’ by Foreign Investors in Developing Countries,” by von Braun and Ruth Meinzen-Dick, which was presented last week, estimates that 15 to 20 million hectares have been acquired or are in the process of being sold.
Von Braun pointed out that this is equivalent to about 25 percent of all the farmland in Europe.
Because hard data is difficult to come by – the study was based primarily on information from press reports – IFPRI conservatively estimates that the deals represent 20 to 30 billion dollars being invested by China, South Korea, India and the Gulf States, mainly in Africa.
“About one-quarter of these investments are for biofuel plantations,” von Braun said. Read the rest of this entry »
By Stephen Leahy
CHANGWON, South Korea, Oct 25, 2011 (IPS)
Every six seconds a child dies of hunger-related causes.
That disturbing reality seems as remote as the moon here in the ultra-modern Changwon Convention Centre, where delegates struggled to create effective ways to stem the ongoing decline of food-producing lands.
Each year, 12 million hectares of land are lost where 20 million tonnes of grain might have been grown, according to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. And that loss of food-producing lands is unlikely to change in the near future, even as the final gavel fell in the early morning hours of Oct. 22 at the end the two-week biannual 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10).
“This conference has been highly successful,” said Lee Don Koo, minister of the Korean Forest Service and COP 10 president and host.
It was certainly the largest international gathering on land degradation, with 6,450 participants from 161 countries, including 83 ministers and deputy ministers. Lee Don Koo said this meeting sent a strong message to the world community about the need for strong, sustainable land management and for the pressing need to set targets to reduce land degradation.
“Our goal is to build a land-degradation-neutral world,” said Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the UNCCD. The target date to reach that goal is 2030, Gnacadja told IPS.
Gnacadja would like countries to officially adopt this goal at the RIO+20 conference in June 2012 in Brazil.
It has taken nearly 20 years to get to the point where there is agreement on 11 scientific indicators to measure land degradation and its impacts. Development and implementation of those indicators will take some years yet. The Convention has yet to address the economic and policy drivers of land degradation, acknowledged Antonio Rocha Magalhães, chair of the Committee on Science and Technology. Read the rest of this entry »
“A four-degree C world would be horrendous and must be avoided at all costs”
By Stephen Leahy*
MEXICO CITY, Dec 7, 2010 (IPS/TerraViva)
Africa will be amongst the hardest hit regions of the world as the climate heats up, threatening the continent’s food security, experts agree. If global temperatures rise 2.0 degrees C, southern Africa will warm an additional 1.5 degrees to a 3.5-degree increase on average.
Such temperatures could be reached as early as 2035. The Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Britain recently advised that a 4.0-degree C rise in the global average temperature could be reached as soon as 2060 if the ever-increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are not curbed.
“The prognosis for agriculture and food security in SSA (Sub-Saharan Africa) in a 4°C+ world is bleak,” write the authors of a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society to be published next month.
“A four-degree C world would be horrendous and must be avoided at all costs,” said Philip Thornton of the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya and co-author of a paper in the Royal Society special issue “Four degrees and beyond”.
“This special issue is a call to action so we can avoid such a future,” Thornton told TerraViva.
Even if a new climate treaty came out of the final week of the 16th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancún, 2.0 degrees C looks inevitable, he said. No one is realistically expecting a comprehensive climate treaty for several years. This means southern Africa can expect to be 3.5 degrees C hotter and much drier in future, he said.
“It is going to get very difficult for rain-fed agriculture in this region,” Thornton warned.
This article was made possible by a contribution from Brewster Kneen of Canada
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“Subsidising biofuels is just about the dumbest way to go.” -- Todd Litman, director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute — Subsidies for 2007 est $13-$15 billion
…increasing biofuel production is a “total disaster” for starving people — Jean Ziegler, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
By Stephen Leahy
Oct 20 2007 (IPS)
A raft of new studies reveal European and American multibillion dollar support for biofuels is unsustainable, environmentally destructive and much more about subsidising agri-business corporations than combating global warming.
Not only do most forms of biofuel production do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, growing biofuel crops uses up precious water resources, increasing the size and extent of dead zones in the oceans, boosting use of toxic pesticides and deforestation in tropical countries, such studies say.
And biofuel, powered by billions of dollars in government subsidies, will drive food prices 20-40 percent higher between now and 2020, predicts the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute.
“Fuel made from food is a dumb idea to put it succinctly,” says Ronald Steenblik, research director at the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Biofuel production in the U.S. and Europe is just another way of subsidising big agri-business corporations, Steenblik told IPS.
“It’s (biofuel) also a distraction from dealing with the real problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he asserts. Read the rest of this entry »