It is now the turn of South America. India is among the few countries which are now eyeing the vast tracts of fertile land in South America. After having swallowed quite a significant proportion of Africa, the land grabbers are now moving to spread their tentacles to South America.
The tragedy is that like the African governments, some of the South American countries -- Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay -- are willing partners in this wave of neo-colonism. As a news report below states Brazil has offered 30 million hectares, Argentina 32 million and Uruguay 10 million with lesser acreage in other countries. This sure is some sort of globalisation where the land grabbers and the land owners join hand in what appears to be an unbridled exploitation.
What is shocking is that the political leadership in South America has so quickly forgotten its sordid and disastrous colonial past. Lure of personal monetary gains is making the political leaders accept a still worse form of neo-colonism. People's struggles to oust the Spaniards (Much of Latin America was under Spanish rule) is all but forgotten. Look at the irony of fate. The same people who fought the colonial masters, are now welcoming the new masters with open arms.
Land grabbing is now becoming a global phenomenon. Please read my earlier post on Africa. Several other analytical pieces can be found on my blog if you search under the label of 'land grab'.
Food pirates are extending their reach. Africa is an easy target
It is time South America woke up to the emerging threat. It is time the people of South America, in most cases they are as poor, ignorant and marginalised as bulk of the Indian population is, resisted the move of their own governments to sell off their land. Remember, by allowing the food pirates to come and farm in your own countries, you are actually allowing them control over your land. Once your land goes away from your control, it wouldn't take long to push you all in the category of 'land less'.
You will become political refugees in your own country.
Come on Latin America. Say no to these land grabbers. Keep these food pirates, even if they are from India, away from your shores. As Jawaharlal Nehru had said when India was fighting for Independence from the British: "Freedom is in peril. Defend it with all your might."
Govt wants Indians to buy land in South America
Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 18, 2010
The government is encouraging Indians to buy farmland in Latin American countries and grow crops there.
The external affairs ministry is preparing a policy framework to enable Indians to do so, maintaining that if the produce is shipped back home, it could help address the country’s food security problem, specially during years of drought.
In many South American countries there is abundance of fertile land, as well as cutting edge farm technology. There are no restrictions on foreigners owning land. In some places, land prices are lower than in parts of India.
“The cost per hectare is less than half the price of agricultural land in Punjab,” said R. Viswanathan, Indian ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Since the land acquisition will be by private parties only, the chances of such purchase becoming a political issue were remote, officials felt. “When government land is being leased or sold to another country, it becomes a political issue. Not in this case,” Viswanathan added.
Officials estimated that Brazil had around 30 million hectares on offer, Argentina, 32 million, and Uruguay 10 million, with lesser amounts in other countries.
Early investors include Sri Renuka Sugars, one of India’s largest sugar producers, which has signed an agreement with a Brazilian conglomerate Grupo Equipav to buy a controlling 50.79 per cent share in it, with which will come control over the company vast sugarcane fields.
As yet however, there is no financing available to buy land in these countries.
Unlike in Africa, there is no competition with China here either. China does have around $ 24 billion invested in South America, but it does not encourage private ownership of land. It prefers that the state itself buy land, as it has done in many African countries, but in Latin America, that is not possible.