Adviser on Land policy to the African Union (AU) and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Professor Manadivamba Rukuni has said, Africa may lose a golden opportunity to feed the world if steps are not taken to control the current state of land acquisition by foreigners.
He said, although the acquisition of land is not limited to Africa alone, the spate at which Africa is giving away land to foreigners threatens the security of the continent hence the need for leaders on the continent to review their land policies that would inure to the benefit of the people.
Professor ManadivambaRukuni was speaking at a two day workshop for Journalists, organised by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in Johannesburg.
He indicated that over the last 10 years, Africa has given away about 34 million hectors of land to foreigners to engage in various activities that undermine the economic and social interest of the people.
“Today we are close to 34 million hectors of land. There is another 30 or 40 million been negotiated now as we speak so some of that will also be taken away in the next 5years” he lamented.
Professor Rukuni disclosed that Analyst are predicting that in another 10 to 15 years Africa would have leased away about 120 million hectors of land which is equivalent to all land being cultivated by the European Union.
He said, under normal circumstances when investors come to Africa and they need land, Africans should have ways of ensuring that, the investment is really benefiting the people, adding that he is not against trading or leasing of land but the conditions under which the land is given out do not make sense.
He revealed that a hector of land is valued at $6 (six dollars) on the average in Africa, a situation he observed does not make sense in the world where agriculture land is going for more than $30,000 a hector in most of the industrialised nations.
“Most of the world now has lost their capacity to produce their own food, fuel etc. The rich countries are coming to Africa where land is in abundance. Some of them are getting this land to produce food for their own countries as they grow rice, bio fuel because of the fuel crises in the energy sector.”
Professor Manadivamba Rukuni who is also the Director for Barefoot Education for Afrika Trust (BEAT), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) blamed the phenomenon on the failure of African leaders to evolve effective land policies aimed at protecting the interest of the people.
He challenged journalists to take up the responsibility to expose such politicians and leaders who connived with multinational industries to release land at the expense of the interest of the masses.
Such contracts he observed, must have components where the investors bring a lot of technology, open up markets for the indigenes to supply the markets with better quality jobs for the youth.
“We need to get real value for this land rather than giving land away for 99years to people who don’t even use it for the purposes for which they acquire the land. Some of them are even underutilising it,” he noted
The land Policy adviser also cautioned that if the trend continued, Africans would lose a golden opportunity to be the bread basket of the world because in 30 years the world population will increase and Africa may not have land to cultivate to feed herself and the world