According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), food prices will surge by 40 percent in the next 10 years and will result in an acute food crisis worldwide. The report says the food expenditure per household is expected to rise by 30 percent.
The main factor contributing to this situation is the rapid urbanization of developed countries replacing arable lands with industrial zones. Developing countries appear to be oblivious of this fact and are destroying farmable lands. Such practices that lead to the devastation of world’s valuable natural resources at the hands of the former colonial powers are described as “agro-imperialism.”
Africa is once again in the headlines. Despite having been blessed with huge natural resources, the Dark Continent is struggling with hunger and poverty due to a lack of infrastructure, industries, rampant civil wars, continuous tug-of-war between establishments and the corporate sector. Ironically, 40 percent of the unused agricultural lands of the world are in Africa and the peoples of the continent, who cannot produce their own crops, are not able to benefit from their underground resources or their lands, which can be used for high-temperature resistant quality agriculture. This situation has opened the doors to a world of exploitation.
When the dangers of food crisis became apparent, countries looking for quick fixes began buying or renting agricultural lands in various African countries. It is estimated that some 47-56 million hectares of cultivable land have already changed owners through this method. Congo has reportedly rented 8.1 million hectares, corresponding to one-fourth of its entire lands. While the area of farmable lands rented by Great Britain in Africa is equal to the size of Denmark; US, China and Switzerland combined, purchased lands as big as Moldova.
This practice might at first look like a good idea for Africa, which needs new revenue sources. But in practice, things are different. Investor countries rent those areas not for a few years but for much longer duration like 90 years. They are being exempted from taxes for a long time and the produce is mostly exported. The portion they set aside for the domestic market causes a disadvantage in the competition for the African people who cannot carry out real agriculture and are having difficulty marketing their produce. In the domestic market, only the investor countries make money while the value of domestic products dips. For this reason, this practice does nothing but make the imperialist powers richer, as the Africans get poorer.
Some African countries have laws in place that protect exploitation of their respective agricultural sectors. For example in Ghana, the national parliament provides full support to those laws that restrict the farmers’ abilities to stock and swap seeds. This entails the farmers destroying seeds of their local products, and being forced to purchase the genetically-modified seeds provided by western suppliers. It is a known fact that countries that do not follow this path are pressured to accept it by western governments through various means. Actually, it is difficult to say that exploited Africa is the only victim in all of this. At the moment, this imperialist seed market has taken hold of the entire world. All developing countries, including Turkey, feel forced to accept this dangerous and exploitative system.
Mercia Andrews, of the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) in South Africa, sees this as “another phase of colonialism” and adds “what we need is … People to people solidarity, not corporate takeover.”
Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), stated that: “If we set our sights only on improving productivity, there is a very real danger that we will grow more food in Africa without feeding more people.”
The only reason why the world’s resources are not sufficient although there are enough to feed twice the world population today is selfishness. If the future policies are based on principles of selfishness and egoism, and if profit is favored over human life, global disasters will continue to strike mankind. The only way to avoid such disasters is to ensure that the spirit of love and solidarity prevails.
When that happens, the developed countries will work to ensure development both for themselves and for the countries they are using the lands of. They will choose to create opportunities to get prosperous together, instead of trying to further exploit an already impoverished country. They will teach industry, technology and agriculture to them, use the resources together and improve the existing conditions through cooperation. The spirit of love and solidarity that God wants can exist only through conscience. Such hearts with a strong conscience cannot bear the thought of getting rich at the expense of others. Such hearts cannot stand the thought of seeing themselves superior to others as the conscience always shows the right way.
In order for conscientious societies, governments and leaders to emerge, people with good hearts need to make their voices stronger. It is evident that selfish practices brought only poverty and hate to the world. The way to achieve wealth and happiness is conscientious and loving policies, which are things that governments probably never tried before. Let’s remind one more time something we have mentioned so many times before: Civilizations will get stronger not through fights, exploitation and oppression but through bonding, sharing, helping and loving each other. Those who find it hard to believe should put it to test once to see how true it is.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News & The Hans India: