If you think that corporate loot and acquisition of agricultural land is an issue only in India, you are wrong. It’s happening all over, mainly in countries of the third world, the developing economies. Interestingly, Indian government and the big business houses it pampers, too are also members of this land grabbing club
\\\’An Examination of the Role of the Indian Government and Indian Companies Engaged in Overseas Agricultural Land Acquisitions in Developing Countries,\\\’ by Rick Rowden brought out in collaboration with GRAIN and Economic Research Foundation throws light on this new trend by the Indian corporates as they continue to face a threat from the fast burgeoning role of an expansionist Chinese regime.
The summary of the report reads:
“This report explores the role of Indian agricultural companies that have been involved in the recent trend in large-scale overseas acquisitions of farmland, criticised as “land grabbing”. While many international companies have traditionally grown cash crops abroad, and more recently crops for producing biofuels for global markets, this report is focused especially on the issue of Indian companies that invest in food production overseas.
The report examines the various factors driving the “outsourcing” of domestic food production. Primary among these are the Indian Government’s growing strategic concerns about ensuring the country’s long-term food security, and its concerns about diminishing ground water tables in Northern and Central India. Other factors include the allure for Indian foreign investors of much cheaper land and more abundant water sources in overseas locations and the eager welcome of many developing country governments, many of which have courted Indian agricultural investors. In many cases, such countries have offered special incentives, including the offer to lease massive tracts of arable land at very generous terms, including access to water and the ability to fully repatriate profits generated.
The report also lists the major ways in which the Indian Government has been increasingly pro-active in taking steps to facilitate this trend for overseas agricultural investment by Indian companies, such as high-level trade diplomacy and lines of credit from the Export-Import Bank. India\\\’s outward foreign direct investment has been enabled by a series of reforms and modifications over the last decade to India’s rules and regulations on Indian companies investing in overseas operations.
Also reviewed are the pro-active roles played by national Indian business associations such as the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII), the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI), as well as by sector-specific groups, such as the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA) and the Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) of India. Such groups have been actively engaged in high-level trade delegations to countries which are interested in luring Indian agricultural firms to invest, and have arranged a series of business conclaves and trade fairs. The groups are all active in lobbying the Indian Government to pursue even further reforms to trade policy, Exim Bank credits and the rules on outward foreign direct investment in order to facilitate the overseas acquisitions of agricultural land by Indian companies.
(To see the detail report, copy the following url and open it in a new window. thanks. the url is- http://www.pratirodh.com/pdf/Indiasrole.in.global.farmland-grab.pdf)
The report also explores the negative consequences of such a trend. It looks at why critics have called the trend “land grabbing” and reviews the impacts on local peoples on the ground, who are often displaced in the process. It considers the negative ethical, political, human rights and environmental consequences for the people and host countries involved in such investments by Indian companies.
Although information about such overseas operations by Indian companies is difficult to get from the Indian Government, this report used available research and press accounts to explore the details of 19 Indian companies who have made such land acquisitions abroad, including an exposé of the actual contracts of 5 Indian companies operating in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has taken center stage in the story of “land grabbing” because it is one of the developing countries where some of the largest agricultural land acquisitions by foreign investors have occurred, including by Indian firms.
The report reviews the calls by many advocates for a major shift away from the current model of large, corporate commercial agricultural production based on monoculture, which depends on chemicals and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), towards an alternative agricultural production model based on a more decentralised approach that favors small holder farmers. Such an approach is based on agro-ecological methods that support and enhance biodiversity, environmental sustainability and community control.
Finally, this report gives voice to those Indian activists fighting for small farmers rights and against the “land grabbing” going on within India, and their call to create international linkages of solidarity with small farmers in other countries who are facing similar problems. They see a “common struggle” everywhere in the world and are calling on Indian citizens to take action to address the problem of landing-grabbing by Indian companies operating overseas.”