New Scramble in Africa: Foreigners Farm for Themselves

Los Angeles Times
By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Photo: Ahmed Mohamed Abdalla, 80, farmer in Wad Rawah,
Sudan. (Edmund Sanders / Los Angeles Times)

September 27, 2008

WAD RAWAH, SUDAN — Africa’s abundant natural resources have long invited foreign exploitation.

Over generations, foreign empires and companies stripped the continent of its gold and diamonds, then its oil. Rubber and ivory were plundered from Congo. Even Africa’s people were exploited: captured and sold into slavery abroad.

Now foreigners are enjoined in a new scramble in Africa. The latest craze? Food. Amid a global crisis that for a time this year doubled prices for wheat, corn, rice and other staples, some of the world’s richest nations are coming to Africa to farm, hoping to turn the global epicenter of malnutrition into a breadbasket for themselves.

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Ethiopia, for example, is marketing its farmland to Saudi Arabia, yet the Horn of Africa nation has a history of famine and is currently combating serious drought. Under such circumstance, foreign growers planning to export food could face potential protests, even riots, from hungry locals, experts said. And even as it tries to lure the foreign investment, the government recently slapped a ban on all food exports in response to domestic shortages.

“It would be unimaginable for a foreign investor in Ethiopia now to simply ship out large amounts of grain,” Von Braun said.

But he stressed that the foreign partnerships should benefit everyone by increasing worldwide food production. “We should not look at this trend with alarm. The more capital that finds its way into agriculture, the [bigger] the total pie.”

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1 Response to “New Scramble in Africa: Foreigners Farm for Themselves”

  1. 1 Gemtuzumab ozogamycin Sep 28th, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    It is perfectly fine for foreign countries to take advantage of Africa’s abundant resources since most Africans prefer receiving foreign aid instead of working to become self reliant.

    Here is my solution for Africans
    No more foreign aid under any circumstance. Foreign Aid has made Africans lazy, allows them to use the little resources they have to buy AK 47 to wage wars and kill each other. Ethiopia is spending millions of dollars fighting in Somalia, yet they are begging the world to feed their own people.

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