Africa Up For Grabs

Saturday 4 September 2010 by LRAN

Foreword

The African continent is increasingly being seen as a source of agricultural land and natural resources for the rest of the world. National governments and private companies are obtaining access to land across the continent to grow crops for food and fuel to meet growing demand from mainly overseas countries. Agrofuels - the large scale production of crops used to produce liquid fuels -are being hailed by some as Africa’s silver bullet.

Proponents of agrofuels generally argue that agrofuel production will address the economic crisis facing many developing countries; they will create wealth and jobs and alleviate poverty. These arguments overlook the other side of the story and leave many questions unanswered. Is the push for agrofuel production in the interest of the developing countries or are the real beneficiaries Northern industrialised countries? Will the production of agrofuels actually provide more jobs and enhance economic development at the community level? Will it address the issue of food insecurity plaguing the developing world? What are the social and environmental costs of agrofuel production to host communities? Who stands to benefit from the entire process? These issues need to be assessed objectively. We should not accept these arguments without subjecting them to empirical analysis. The rationale behind this research is anchored on this premise. It looks at the spread of agrofuel production across Africa and highlights the social, economic, health and environmental concerns found.

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4 September 2010
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