Books have been written about impending food shortages and scientists of all stripes have started to ring alarm bells that growing populations cannot be adequately fed with prevailing methods.
Yet, for every report that advocated large scale farming, there are others making a point of the efficiency of small family-owned (some say subsistence) farmers) farms.
Fred Pearce travelled the world, interviewed m any experts, managers of gigantic farms, small farmers, and conducted considerable research on the Internet.
In this extremely important and well-written book, the author tries to present facts, and seems to support small farm advocates.
Yet, there are a few mistakes that should be pointed out – Saudi Arabia has never been one of the biggest wheat exporters, nor has African agriculture output grown more than four per cent in the last decade, and Guinea is not landlocked country.
All this aside, this book is a very valuable and important oeuvre that should ring alarm bells of all governments in developed and developing countries.
It is clear that big capital tries to maximize returns, and wherever managers see opportunity, money starts to flow there in an attempt to reap considerable benefits.
Now, there seems to be a lot of capital from oil-rich countries that needs to be invested, and the logical place appears to be land. Africa ha s a lot of it, and many governments practically give it away to those who promise a lot in return. Of course, poorly paid government employees, susceptible to bribes, make concessions, in favour of city slick capitalists. The cycle is vicious and works against small landholders.
The world is experiencing an end run around national sovereignty being accomplished by the unscrupulous international money cartel. This detailed book explains the concepts of land grab expertly, and explores both sides of the problem – that of the small landholder and inept governments and big capital.
In developing countries the laws are ineffective, poorly conceived and extremely porous. Add to that the vulnerability of decision makers, and you have a perfect venue to exploit the weak.
But even well managed capitalist landholders are prone to land grabs, which result from unfavourable, and changing climatic conditions as is the case in Australia.
The author does not mention what role huge agricultural chemical laboratories are manipulating resulting in land grabs with their “new” seeds and chemicals.
Their lobbyists change the minds of lawmakers in financially strapped small countries.
This is an informative and eye-popping well-researched book, based on first hand knowledge and interviews.
Every government employee involved in development, all students of economics, social scientists, and those in politics should read it to draw his/her conclusions about politics, food production, and capital flows.