Sunday, March 7, 2010


"The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1,000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 200 miles to Addis Ababa and flown 1,000 miles to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world with more than 13 million people needing food aid, but paradoxically the government is offering at least 3m hectares of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world's most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations." (Thanks Laila)

An important article with facts that are frighteningly true. However, the essential problem lies in the way the narrative is woven: Arabs grabbing the lands of the poor in Africa and causing famine because of their insatiable appetite. Insatiable it may be, but not more than that of any consumption society such as the US or Europe. The essential problem is capitalist agriculture and export oriented production that undermines food sovereignty. This is the issue: there is no difference between what some Arab countries are doing (through corporations) and what transnational corporations are already doing: people forced to produce export food they do not consume for minimal wages and barely surviving food insecurity. This is what the World Bank and other neo green revolutionaries want: comparative advantages, and more money for the rich. The problem is here, so lets talk about it as it is. Oh but islamophobia and arabophobia sell so much better.

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