Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Madagascar

Millions (more than 30) Locusts hits Egypt as Easter and Passover approach

Do you think the troubles in the Middle East are way too bad?

Threats of nuclear weapons, civil wars, insurrections, political intrigue, religious violence, terrorist jihadist Wahhabi movements, absolute monarchies, military dictatorship… And Egypt is experiencing a plague of locusts.

Joel C Rosenberg posted on March 4, 2013: “30 million locusts hits Egypt as Passover approaches. Mideast troubles take a Biblical twist”

locusts 

“A plague of over 30 million locusts swarmed over Egypt’s cities and farms just three weeks before Passover begins,” reports The Atlantic magazine.

“This happens every year as part of the locusts’ natural migration pattern, though this year’s swarm is especially large. That doesn’t mean Egyptians aren’t freaked the heck out by millions of nasty bugs buzzing through the air at all hours of day and night, possibly descending upon the agriculture fields where they’re known to destroy entire crops, just like in the actual Passover story.”

Other reports are popping up on CBS News  and MSNBC, and in the Times of Israel,Haaretz, and other publications in the Middle East.

“The crops are so far safe, Egyptian officials assured the public,” The Atlantic reports. “As the plague made its way from the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia at the end of last week and this weekend”.

Egyptian Agricultural Minister Salah Abdel Moamen explained the situation to the country in a calmly worded statement. ‘The current inspection teams at areas targeted by locusts did not witness swarms damaging a single inch of crop,’ said Moamen. He added that the locusts are ‘sexually immature and do not depend on plants for energy since they mainly rely on fat stores.’”

“That said, these plagues can be unpredictable,” notes The Atlantic. “Egyptian officials didn’t expect the plague to pass by the country’s capital. And by Sunday the locusts unexpectedly arrived in Cairo.

The government denied reports that the locusts had started devastating crops as well as a report from United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that the Ministry of Agriculture cleared 11,000 hectares of land in an attempt to save the harvest.

When they get hungry, a one-ton hoard of locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as 2,500 humans, according to the UN. Egypt knows this too.

Less than a decade ago, a plague of locusts nearly 40 miles wide swept over Egypt damaging crops at the majority of the country’s farms.

Note 1: It appears that the vast island of Madagascar on the Indian Ocean and in East Africa is the hardest hit by the locust calamity.

Note 2: Lebanon witnessed a locust “hazard” in 1915, and for 3 months ate the dry and the green, adding to the famine generated by the WWI when the Turkish army confiscated all food and able men to the war machine. Almost a fourth of Lebanon population died of famine and consequent illnesses, particularly in the mountain districts of Betroun and Jbeil where half the people in towns perished.

Note 3: I read that locust is your regular normal critter that transforms into a devouring insect when conditions are appropriate.

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There are currently over half a million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.  They settled in refugee camps during three major phases:  First, they settled in refugee camps after the “Independence of Israel”, a State recognized my a single and simple majority vote in the UN in 1948, and second, after the 1967 preemptive Israeli war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, and third, after the defeat of the Palestinian resistance by the Jordanian monarchy in 1971. 

Already, one hundred thousand Palestinian refugees got the Lebanese nationality, not included in the half a million previously mentioned.  Those who got the Lebanese nationality are of three categories:  First, the mostly Palestinian Christians, in order to re-establish sectarian “balance” when the Maronite Christian Presidents of Lebanon had vast authorities before the Taif Agreement in 1989, and second, Palestinians originating from Lebanon such as those who lived in Northern Israel and the Seven Villages and are mostly from the Islam Chiaa sect, and third, the wealthy and business men Palestinians such as the families of Baidass, Sabbagh, Khoury, Nemr, Nahoum, Faress, Nasr, Kattan, Yutajy, Freij, Gharghour, Oweida, Irathy, Saba and many other families.

It appears that the refugees inscribed in the UNRWA, those residing continuously in Lebanon, number around 200,000 or 5% of the total estimated population in Lebanon.  The remaining Palestinians had managed to settle or work abroad with Lebanese travel documents.

Recent statistics show that over 92% of Palestinian refugees want to return to their Homeland, Palestine.  That is a case closed:  the UN resolution #198 of 1948 guarantees the right of Palestinians to return to Palestine and there is no way to cancel or drop that civic and human right accorded to all refugees who were forced to flee under duress and genocidal treatments.

The US, European Union, and Russia are demanding that the Palestinian refugees drop the right to return before extending compensations.  This is an impossible political condition that cannot be satisfied.  The UN should compensate immediately every adult Palestinian and Palestinian families in refugee camps (without any clause pertaining to dropping their rights for return) so that they decide what to do with that money.  Every State around the world, especially the US and European States, will welcome rich Palestinians capable of owning real estates or establishing businesses.  After two years of paying taxes and valid residency papers, the immigrated Palestinians would be having a recognized citizenship.

Since Israelis are entitled to dual citizenship then, it should be so to Palestinians.  For the time being, the UN institution of UNRWA has been caring for the Palestinian refugees in matters of education, health, and survival food since 1948.  The UNRWA budget has been cut frequently while the number of refugees has been increasing dramatically.  Currently, the  UNRWA budget is half a billion dollars; the portion allocated to the refugees in Lebanon is just $70 millions. 

There is a heated debate in Lebanon on how to securing the civic and human rights of the refugees.  There are less than 60 types of jobs that Palestinians are entitled to applying for; and they are denied owning properties, though rich Arabs and foreigners can purchase and own properties. 

The Lebanese have no jobs, no electricity, no potable water, no health coverage for more than 50% of the population, public education neglected for over 30 years, and things are going to hell.  I am pretty sure if Palestinian refugees would consider bartering their UNRWA facilities for a Lebanese nationality card then, most Lebanese would gladly relinquish their stupid cards that are more of a problem than a privilege.

 The UN should establish an international fund to aid and support the Lebanese government improve the infrastructure in the refugee camps and providing health insurance.  Palestinian kids are suffering from diseases due to bad health environment.  The education facilities are deteriorating in the camps.  Camps are becoming hotbeds of insecurity to all the youth not finding an outlet to development and assuring the minimum level of dignity.

The working force in construction, gas stations and sanitation are filled by Syrians, Egyptians, and Bangladeshis.  In-house maids and outside are from Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Madagascar… May be Lebanese and Palestinians should be allocated quotas to work alongside the foreign workers. 

If Lebanon enjoyed an economic and financial boom in its first 30 years of its independence it is mainly because of the flux of Palestinian wealth and knowhow.  Many English-speaking Palestinian refugees worked in the Arab Gulf States and supported their families in Lebanon.  They also made a qualitative development for the American University of Beirut and taught there and constituted the prime English tributary to our economy and finance.

If Lebanon had ever been tad of a State, it would have sustained its financial standing and maintained a modicum of sovereignty.  The Palestinian Resistance Organization (PLO) became a State within a State and even more powerful and more organized since 1972.  The dollar changed for just two Lebanese pounds because of the hard currencies that the PLO poured in our economy; it is currently 1,500 LL

Maid living in the Mistress house?

There are many States that allow private agencies to import foreign maids to serve in private families.  The maid lives in the house with the family and work from 6 am to midnight, always standing and serving, and cleaning until the last member of the family is gone to bed.

The maid in Lebanon cost $150 a month and the entire yearly amount is paid to the agency upfront when the commissioned maid arrives in Lebanon “legally”?  Most of the time, the contract of the hired foreign maid is for two years.

Maids arriving to Lebanon are mostly from Ethiopia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and from other African States.  Workers at gas stations are mainly from Egypt.  Construction workers are from Syria.  Sanitation workers are from Bangladesh.  You have the impression that every foreign State has a specialty work to do in Lebanon.

Lately, a semi-official report from Madagascar’s Minister of Public and Social Affairs, Nadine Ramorson, denounced in the weekly “Jeune Afrique” the ill treatments of the maids in Lebanon and that many returned home dead or badly injured.  The number of maids from Madagascar climbed from one thousand in 2006 to over 7,000 in 2010.

Before the civil war in Lebanon that started in 1975, maids were hired from Syria.  The child maid’s father would show up once a year to cash in his dues and leave without even sitting and talking to his child daughter of less than 13 of age.

When a kid, I never asked the maid to fetch me a glass of water or for any personal needs; it is shameful to see parents considering as legitimate and right for their kids to be ordering maids around for simple tasks they can and should be doing on their own.

I can testify that the Lebanese, in general, are racist with respect to the poorer classes.  It is worse, when this domestic or worker is from a foreign land.  A black colored worker is called Black or coal.  The higher the number of maids the higher the status of a family.  I can see families bringing more than one maids to events and ceremonies in order to wash dishes, take care of every whims of kids, and serve on tables.

There were periods when Lebanese were respectful to older members and had a sense of shame working others overtime.  Social life is going bad.  You may pay a visit to our prisons to witness the carelessness we handle human rights and human dignity.

Many foreign maids are incarcerated for months without any due process, simply because they could not pay to renew their work permit or purchase a ticket home.  Many maids had committed suicides and we never hear of these cases or the follow-up investigations, if any.

Fact is, we the Lebanese are living in a big prison, with no way out if you have not the money to getting out.  Maybe 5% of the Lebanese are well off (mainly the public servants and families of deputies) but the rest of us are living under $150 per month, with a standard of living higher than Paris and London.

It is no enigma if most Lebanese are servile to their sectarian leaders who were the culprit of this civil war that lasted more than 13 years:  They want to survive and seek political and employment supports.

It is no enigma of this growing racist tendencies when the leaders of the civil wars returned as ministers and deputy after the civil war and have been totally absolved of their genocides by a Parliament of their own.

We have no dignity left to start demonstrations and revolts.  If it were not for Hezbollah’s steadfastness then, Lebanon would have been a State from the past, a non-entity….

I published in my autobiography the following passage:

“At the time it was the custom for well-off family to hire girl child helpers from Syria around Safita.  My family was no exception. The father of any of these children between 10 to 12 years old would visit once a year to collect his money and leave.  Over the span of 6 years, we had 3 child helpers. The first one was named Salimeh and she was my age of 12 but was much taller, robust and all muscles; I recall that I used to box her buttocks, hard as rock.  She was not pretty but she loved us dearly and we got used to liking her cheerful attitude.

The next one was even younger and she used to get lost every time she had to accompany my younger sister Raymonde from school.  Once she lost her way and Raymonde was already at home and she saw Raymonde on the balcony and she hollered to my sister “come down to go home”.

The third helper was short, hard working and pretty and she was in love with me and I was at the age when I could not stand romance and drooping eyes.  I was glad when her father took her away but she was in cry and would not leave.  Mother was hard on the helpers and she made them wake up very early and work all day long for over 13 hours, but mother was meticulous that they keep clean, eating of our own food and wearing decent clothes.  It was hard for me to accept the conditions of these helpers once I became conscious of their alienation, away from their homes for over two years sometimes.”

The late author, Mai Ghoussoub described the life of one these kid helpers in her book “Farewell Beirut” and how she turned out to be a ferocious and fearless fighter during the civil war; most importantly, she never tried to get any revenge on her “masters”, even though the eldest son had raped her and she was confined never to leave the apartment; the girl was just utterly happy to feel free.”

 

Food baskets for year 2050; (Nov. 14, 2009)

I decided to combine and edit 4 posts into a comprehensive essay that might forecast the world’s agricultural state in the year 2050, as it will be inhabited by 10 billion people. The posts are: The long-term “Revenge of Geography”; “Food BANG, not the Big One”; “The world’s food basket: Africa is heaven for agro-business investments”; and “Africa is targeted to be exclusively the world’s food basket”

We are barely feeding the current world population and millions are dying of famine related malnutrition.

In 1960, many developed nations had surpluses of food stuff; this is no longer the case.  Funny Mark Twain said “Buy lands; we are no more manufacturing those kinds of things“.

The UN branch for Food and Agriculture Organization predicted that agricultural products will witness increases in prices over 50% by the year 2017 and predicted that famine will be the lot of 70 impoverished States harming 1.2 billion human.

Global problems for water shortages

We are witnessing the era of “Anthropocene” which means man is doing more damages to the environment than nature can stabilize; the main reality to account for is acute shortages in sources of water. “It is man who has the power to create; it is nature that commands to a large extent” said Harold Mackinder in 1904.

The main problems cannot be summarized in population explosion.  Modern problems are exacerbating the conditions.

First, just in China and India the number of middle class “well off people” are 4 times the combined numbers in the USA, Europe, and Japan. These newly created classes in the last two decades demand equal standards of living that the developed nations have been enjoying for a century. Consequently, water has to be diverted from agriculture to urban centers that are fast increasing in numbers and in size.  Huge investments are being spent to building dams, diverting rivers, and constructing thousands of miles of water canals.

Second, most rivers are heavily polluted from mass industrializations, a process that has been going on for many decades. Fertile lands are deteriorating as they are irrigated with toxic and highly saline water.

Third, climatic changes are affecting rain delivery in sufficient amount. Deserts are expanding and sub-terrene water sources are dwindling in numbers and quantities.

Fourth, the USA and Europe are planting agro-energy products that are transformed into non-fossils sources for energy. The EU is shooting for a 10% sufficiency by the year 2010 from these agro sources.  Thus, vast fields of wheat and corn are being converted to agro products rich in sugar contents. This policy might resolve EU internal problems in the short run in several ways: first, instead of subsidizing agriculture for competitive exportation the EU could invest in land development in the large States of Poland and Ukraine; this alternative might enhance the internal food trade with adequate return for the poorer EU member Sates; second, the constant stream of law suits against infringements on Global Free Trade will be reduced; and third, experiments on alternative energy substitutes will be encouraged.

Fifth, the USA and the EU are leasing fertile lands overseas not to produce edible condiments for the famished population but products for their energy substitutes.

Political end games

The main power in the coming decades will reside in the States who control the sources of the major rivers.  China has conquered Tibet because three main rivers take their sources from the Himalaya mountain chains; mainly the Mekong (that flow into the South East), the Indus (that flow in Pakistan), and the Brahmapoutre that flow in India and join the Ganges River.

Thus, if China decided to use water as weapon it can disturb all the States from Pakistan, India, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Viet Nam. China has already built 86,000 dams along the Blue and Yellow Rivers that take sources on the western plateaus. And China has not consulted with the South East countries and has already built four mega dams on the Mekong, including two huge lakes that will take about 10 years to fill in order to generate hydraulic power.

Turkey controls two huge rivers: the Euphrates and the Tiger that flow in Syria and Iraq.  Turkey has been building dams on these rivers without consulting with the southern neighboring States.  Ethiopia is in control of the Nile if it wishes to.  The US has been building dams along rivers that flow into Mexico.

China, Turkey, Russia, USA, and Brazil control sources of major rivers.

Latin America has enough water, except Argentina. The main struggle in the medium-term is who will control the Nile, the Niger, and the Congo Rivers in Africa.

There are 4 basic alternatives for securing water that can be used concomitantly.

First, desalination of Oceans and the towing of icebergs will do for a while but cannot resolve a long-term problem in water shortages.

Second, genetically modified seeds that can withstand many kinds of “natural enemies” may diminish the need for pesticides and herbicides and increase production.

Third, leasing or acquiring vast “fertile” lands by foreign agro-businesses in the under-developed States that have shortages in trained manpower for land development, or lacking the technological investment capabilities, or suffering from outdated modern institutions.

Four, enacting policies for large displacement of people from mega-polis to near water sources; that alternative will save on huge investment of supplying water to big urban cities and in order to recover sub-terrain naps and natural ecosystems.  This essay will focus on the second and third alternatives.

Genetically modified seeds

Antitrust laws are so far not being applied to the six industries for organically modified seeds that share scientific discoveries and have sole monopoly of 90% of organic seeds.  Monsanto, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, Syngena, Bayer, and DuPont have deposited more than 500 patents on genes “adapting to climatic changes”: they are figuring out how to profit from degradation of the environment.

In 2008, Monsanto has increased by 35% the prices on organically modified seeds that it has exclusive rights to produce and distribute.  Monsanto and Dow Agrosciences are associated to produce in genetically modified wheat seeds that can withstand 8 kinds of “natural enemies” of mainly herbicides and insecticides in year 2010.  Thus, 87% of modified seeds used around the world bear the label Monsanto.

The multinational oil companies of BP, Shell, Chevron, and Cargill are linking up with companies of nano-sciences of agro-technologies to transform biological matters such as (agricultural harvest, forests, algae…) into industrial sugar. Sugar is then converting into chemical products and nano-products with high added values. Chemistry linked to oil products could now be adapted to vegetable carbon.

Entire countries such as Madagascar and Angola are now being leased to cultivate modified breeds of harvests.

The scientific counselor to Barak Obama, John Holdren, is encouraging the application of geo-engineering to fighting atmospheric changes.  Among such engineering techniques is sprinkling the atmosphere with nano-particles of sulfates to veil the sunrays.  Monster farms of phytoplankton are created to absorb or capture CO2.

The UN views these geo-engineering projects as purely speculative in nature with unknown risks for collateral damages. A joint Indo-German oceanographic Institute discarded the decision of the Conference of the UN and carried on its project: it “fertilized” a large zone in the Antarctic Ocean by dumping tons of iron sulfates; the microscopic unicellular algae were meant to grow in abundance and capture CO2.

The zooplankton ate the algae and the experiment was not conclusive; this temporary failure is encouraging other multinationals such as Climos Inc. or (Planktos Science) to resume these kinds of projects under the name of “eco-restoration” for substantial financial returns.

Leasing or acquiring vast “fertile” lands by foreign agro-businesses

If you have lands with no water, if you have water and no fertile land, if you have accumulated enough in your Sovereign Fund then the way to go is to invest in foreign fertile lands for agricultural “self-sufficiency”, which means import food at much lower prices.

Japan, South Korea, China, India, and Saudi Arabia are leading these kinds of joint ventures. Many under-developed States with vast “fertile” lands are leased or acquired by foreign agro-businesses.  So far, 30 millions hectares (the size of 30 Lebanon or the size of the Philippines) are already in use for mass agricultural production. China, rich in water and fertile lands, is leading this policy of “getting out of the borders” since 2004.

Africa is the prime target continent because it has 4 large and long rivers such as the Nile, the Congo, and the Niger Rivers and the lands are barely worked.  The Sudan, Mozambique, and the Democratic Congo are prime targets in the medium-term.

Vast fertile lands are left unproductive for lack of investment and manpower.

Theoretically, we should have win-win situations, but the facts are that the contracts of the multinational agro-businesses are not transparent; there are no clauses on specificities that might benefit the population either in technology or land development.

Most of the contracts are barely three pages long and contain no precisions on investors’ obligations toward investing in infrastructures, durable management of the natural resources, or the training of the local peasants for developing small parcels of land and applying the technology.  The President of Earth Policy Institute, Lester Brown, “Essentially, the technologies used by these agro-investments are meant for massive commercial production and not adaptable to the concerned small local farmers.  There is basically no transfer of technology or training. Thus, what the foreign investors are acquiring in lands is not going to feed the local population as we might hope.

Let us consider the case of the oil rich Arab Gulf States: rice is their main staple and it has to be imported in totality.

These States imported a third from India and then India had to curtail its exportation of rice due to climatic problems in order to feed its citizens.  These States imported 10% from Thailand (the first exporter of rice in the world) but then Thailand doubled the price of its rice to $1,000 the ton.  How the Arab Gulf States were to counter this difficulty?  Their Sovereign Funds could be invested in rice fields in Thailand and that what they started to do. You could have a win-win situation: there are vast lands in Thailand that are not cultivated; increasing rice production should not hurt Thailand since rice prices are increasing and Thailand needs to secure oil provision.

Instead of purchasing 10% of its need in rice from Thailand, then the Arab Gulf States might increase it to 40%.

One happier story: Thailand needs to establish a rice warehouse in the Arab Gulf to distribute rice at affordable prices.  Things should look pretty promising.  Joint-ventures in agro-businesses where Sovereign Funds invest the money and the Thai peasants got to work in jobs they are proficient in should not raise so much fuss: should it? The problem is that internal politics in Thailand want a scapegoat: Arabs buying lands in Thailand; or rice production is a strictly national occupation and should be 100% reserved for citizens (as if the Arab is going to relocate to plant rice in Thailand!); or Thailand is not Africa and we are a developed nation.

Another case is Madagascar, a vast Island in East Africa.  The standard of living has fallen below the one in 1960.  Why Independence pride has to be highly correlated with miseries in the former colonial States?  Major deforestation is the norm in Madagascar: people need to cook their meals! The South Korean Daewoo wanted to lease 1.3 million hectares for 99 years. What it is with this taboo of 99 years lease of lands? Does every investor has in the back of his head to let his grand child witness his greatness and pray for his great spirit?

The deal fell apart after the President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, fell out of power. Apparently, not much transparency and communication were accompanied to that deal. In the meanwhile cattle thieves “dahalo” are on rampage. Even the tiny Maurice Island acquired lands (10,000 ha) in Mozambique for the island food sufficiency.

Ramakrishna Karuturi (the king of rose production, grown on 4 millions hectares) is leasing the hectare for two dollars a year in Ethiopia! Now, there can be no doubt that the Ethiopian government had received a fat bribe for such a lousy deal.

The Congo with Capital Brazzaville is half the size of France with barely 4 million citizens concentrated in the capital and the other city Pointe-Noire on the coast. This African States was a French colony and is rich in minerals and uranium.  It cultivates potatoes.  South Afrikaners who lost 30% of their agricultural lands for redistribution programs to the black citizens want to acquire or lease lands in this Congo; the Agri SA (South Africa) has 1,700 agro-businesses interested in producing soja, sugar cane, and corn.

Ten million hectares were literally offered to the Afrikaners (a land stretching 500 by 200 km, twice the size of Switzerland) and its location is not yet decided upon; maybe entire virgin forests might be burned for agriculture. The Agri SA is promising to build agro villages with ready made houses contracted to Israeli firms.  What if the deal demanded that thousands of Congolese be trained to develop and grow lands after two years of working in the Afrikaners’ lands?  This deal is a striking political and ecological scandal because the terms of the deal are fishy and not communicated to the citizens.

Kazakhstan is practically a continent in size and barely 1% of the land is privately owned.  This rich and newly independent State imports 40% of milk, 30% of meat, and 45% of fruits and vegetables. The population is mostly rural. The States lease lands for 49 years.

The State of Kazakhstan has set aside 35,000 square-kilometers to lease to foreign investors but only China is interested. The main States vying for foreign fertile lands are:

South Korea has acquired a total of 3 millions hectares (three times the superficies of the State of Lebanon); it is growing fields in Russia (500,000 ha), Sudan (700,000 ha), Madagascar (1.3 million ha), Mongolia (300,000 ha), Philippines (100,000 ha), and Indonesia (25, 000 ha).  The Korean agency for international cooperation (State owned) is creating private and public enterprises to invest into agro-businesses by loans or direct governmental investments. Leases of fertile lands are for 60 years and an extension of another 40 years. In return, Korea will extend technologies and development planning.  It appears that South Korea is projecting unification with North Korea and the flooding of North Korean refugees soon. South Korea is interested in the “krai of Primorie” in Russia with 2.5 millions of arable land.

China has invested for a total of 2 millions hectares.  It has 1.25 millions in South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos), in Mozambique (800,000 ha), in Australia (45,000), and in Cuba (5,000 ha). China acquired (80,000 ha) in Russia for just $22 millions.

Japan has acquired a total of one million hectares in Philippines (600,000 ha), USA (225,000 ha), and Brazil (100,000 ha).

India has acquired a total of 1.7 millions hectares in Argentina (600,000 ha), Ethiopia (370,000 ha), Malaysia (300,000 ha), Madagascar (250,000 ha), Indonesia (70,000 ha), and in Laos (50,000 ha).  The Indian government has extended loans to 80 agro-businesses to purchase 350,000 ha in Africa.

Saudi Arabia has invested in Indonesia (one million ha), Senegal (500,000 ha), and in Mali (200,000 ha).  The Arab Emirates has invested in Pakistan (325,000 ha), and in Sudan (400,000 ha). Egypt has invested in Uganda (850,000 ha).  Libya has invested in Ukraine (250,000 ha), and Liberia (5,000 ha).  Qatar invested in the Philippines (100,000 ha).

Global Resolutions

Africa is the remaining poorest continent with vast fertile lands and plenty of manpower to exploit for agro-business enterprises. Africa is targeted to be exclusively the world’s food basket in this century. The UN, the EU, economic superpower States, and private institutions and organizations need to step in to plan, organize, administer, inspect, and enforce appropriate deals for the best management and control of food and water resources.

Since the citizens of independent States that have experienced colonialism are weary of camouflaged colonialism in other forms then their governments are circumventing land laws by enacting laws of mixed private enterprises with lease or acquisition contracts that are not transparent to the public. The UN has to step in and write standard contracts leases that preserve peoples rights to training, sustainable resources, technology know-how, human dignity, right to work, right to share in the management and decisions at community levels, and that these contracts supersede what any other two parties agree on that lack the standard rights and responsibilities.

It is unconscionable that “privatization version” to colonizing Africa infiltrate from the windows. The fact is State funds are loaning money to their own agro-businesses to invading African fertile lands. This neo-colonial pact among State and agro-businesses has to be made clear and restrictions be implemented by world communities.  Territories are changing hands and are no longer under the control of the people and peasants.

The UN has to set up a special fund to purchasing organically modified seeds that have proven not to constitute health hazard; it has to limit the exclusive life duration for exploitation by multinationals that are escaping antitrust laws.

The UN is burdened by countless military conflicts that are interrelated with people seeking better life conditions for survival. An independent branch in the UN needs to be established that would link the causative factors that are generating constant conflicts among neighboring States.  Fair share for water resources is a right that supercede which country control the sources of the rivers.

We hope that the world community will pressure these investors to grow food slowly: resuming the old practices of mass production techniques will ruin the remaining land with fertilizers and pesticides.

The world’s food basket: Africa is heaven for agribusiness investments.

( Part 2, Nov. 12, 2009)

You may read part 1: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/africa-is-targeted-to-be-exclusively-the-worlds-food-basket/

Let us plan for the year 2050; most probably earth will be inhabited by 10 billions humans.  We are barely feeding the current world population and millions are dying of famine related malnutrition.  Many under-developed States with vast “fertile” lands are leased or acquired by foreign agribusinesses. 

So far, 30 millions hectares (the size of 30 Lebanon or the size of the Philippines) are already in use for mass agricultural production.  Even China, rich in water and fertile lands, is leading this policy of “getting out of the borders”. 

There are two main reasons for China investing in agriculture overseas:

First, more water is diverted to the thousands of giga-urban centers;

Second, water is so heavily polluted by heavy industrialization that agriculture is suffering,

Third, climatic changes are transforming main wheat fields in the north into semi-desert lands,

Fourth, while the US and Britain are fighting their preemptive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, China takes the great opportunity to sureptitiously invest in infrastructures in Africa that lead to the raw material fields

Africa is the target continent because it has four large and long rivers such as the Nile, the Congo, and the Niger Rivers.  The Sudan, Mozambique, and the Democratic Congo are prime targets in the medium-term. Vast fertile lands are left unproductive for lack of investment and manpower.

  Theoretically, we should have win-win situations, but the facts are that the contracts of the multinational agribusinesses are not transparent:

1. There are no clauses on specificities that might benefit the population either in technology or land development.

2. Most of the contracts are barely three pages long and contain no precisions on investors’ obligations toward investing in infrastructures, durable management of the natural resources, or the training of the local peasants for developing small parcels of land and applying the technology. 

The President of Earth Policy Institute, Lester Brown,  said:

“Essentially, the technologies used by these agro-investments are meant for massive commercial production and not adaptable to the concerned small local farmers.  There is basically no transfer of technology or training. Thus, what the foreign investors are acquiring in lands is not going to feed the local population as we might hope.”

Let us consider the case of the oil rich Arab Gulf States: rice is their main staple and it has to be imported in totality. These States imported a third from India and then India had to curtail its exportation of rice due to climatic problems in order to feed its citizens.  These Emirate Gulf States imported 10% from Thailand (the first exporter of rice in the world) but then Thailand doubled the price of its rice to $1,000 the ton. 

How the Arab Gulf States were to counter this difficulty?  Their Sovereign Funds could be invested in rice fields in Thailand and that what they started to do. You could have a win-win situation: there are vast lands in Thailand that are not cultivated; increasing rice production should not hurt Thailand since rice prices are increasing and Thailand needs to secure oil provision. 

Instead of purchasing 10% of its need in rice from Thailand, the Arab Gulf States might increase it to 40%. One happier story: Thailand needs to establish a rice warehouse in the Arab Gulf to distribute rice at affordable prices.  Things should look pretty promising.  Joint-ventures in agribusinesses where Sovereign Funds invest the money and the Thai peasants got to work in jobs they are proficient in should not raise so much fuss: should it?

The problem is that internal politics in Thailand want a scapegoat: Arabs buying lands in Thailand; or rice production is a strictly national occupation and should be 100% reserved for citizens (as if the Arab is going to relocate to plant rice in Thailand!); or Thailand is not Africa and we are a developed nation.

Another case is Madagascar, a vast Island in East Africa. 

The standard of living in Madagascar has fallen below the one in 1960.  Why Independence pride has to be highly correlated with miseries in the former colonial States?  Major deforestation is the norm in Madagascar: people need to cook their meals! The South Korean Daewoo wanted to lease 1.3 million hectares for 99 years.

What it is with this taboo of 99 years lease of lands? Does every investor has in the back of his head to let his grand child witness his greatness and pray for his great spirit? The deal fell apart after the President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, fell out of power.

Apparently, not much transparency and communication were accompanied to that deal. In the meanwhile cattle thieves “dahalo” are on rampage. Even the tiny Maurice Island acquired lands (10,000 ha) in Mozambique for the island food sufficiency. Ramakrishna Karuturi (the king of rose production in 4 millions hectares) is leasing the hectare for two dollars a year in Ethiopia! Now, there can be no doubt that the Ethiopian government had received a fat bribe for such a lousy deal.

The Congo with Capital Brazzaville is half the size of France with barely 4 million citizens concentrated in the Capital and the other city Pointe-Noire on the coast. This African States was a French colony and is rich in minerals and uranium.  It cultivates potatoes.  

South Afrikaners who lost 30% of their agricultural lands for redistribution programs to the black citizens want to acquire or lease lands in this Congo; the Agri SA (South Africa) has 1,700 agribusinesses interested in producing soja, sugar cane, and corn. Ten million hectares were literally offered to the Afrikaners (a land stretching 500 by 200 km, twice the size of Switzerland) and its location is not yet decided upon; maybe entire virgin forests might be burned for agriculture. The Agri SA is promising to build agro-villages with ready-made houses contracted to Israeli firms.  What if the deal demanded that thousands of Congolese be trained to develop and grow lands after two years of working in the Afrikaners’ lands?  This deal is a striking political and ecological scandal because the terms of the deal are fishy and not communicated to the citizens.

Kazakhstan is practically a continent in size and barely 1% of the land is privately owned.  This rich and newly independent State imports 40% of milk, 30% of meat, and 45% of fruits and vegetables. The population is mostly rural. The States lease lands for 49 years. 

The State of Kazakhstan has set aside 35,000 square-kilometers to lease to foreign investors but only China is interested. Europe is not interested in leasing lands in Kazakhstan but China is.  China has already leased 40,000 hectares and planning on increasing its agribusinesses.

Africa is targeted to be exclusively the world’s food basket; (Nov. 11, 2009)

If you have lands with no water,

If you have water and no fertile land,

If you have accumulated enough in your Sovereign Fund…

The way to go for States is to invest in foreign fertile lands for agricultural “self-sufficiency”, which means import food at much lower prices. 

Japan, South Korea, China, India, and Saudi Arabia are leading these kinds of joint ventures. For example:

South Korea has acquired a total of 3 millions hectares (three times the superficies of the State of Lebanon); it is growing fields in Russia (500,000 ha), Sudan (700,000 ha), Madagascar (1.3 million ha), Mongolia (300,000 ha), Philippines (100,000 ha), and Indonesia (25, 000 ha).  The Korean agency for international cooperation (State owned) is creating private and public enterprises to invest into agribusinesses by loans or direct governmental investments. Leases of fertile lands are for 60 years and an extension of another 40 years. In return, Korea will extend technologies and development planning.  It appears that South Korea is projecting unification with North Korea and the flooding of North Korean refugees soon.

China has invested for a total of 2 millions hectares.  It has 1.25 millions in South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos), in Mozambique (800,000 ha), in Russia (80,000 ha), in Australia (45,000), and in Cuba (5,000 ha).

Japan has acquired a total of one million hectares in Philippines (600,000 ha), USA (225,000 ha), and Brazil (100,000 ha).

India has acquired a total of 1.7 millions hectares in Argentina (600,000 ha), Ethiopia (370,000 ha), Malaysia (300,000 ha), Madagascar (250,000 ha), Indonesia (70,000 ha), and in Laos (50,000 ha). 

The Indian government has extended loans to 80 agribusinesses to purchase 350,000 ha in Africa.  Ramakrishna Karuturi (the king of rose production in 4 millions hectares) is leasing the hectare for two dollars a year in Ethiopia!

Saudi Arabia has invested in Indonesia (one million ha), Senegal (500,000 ha), and in Mali (200,000 ha). 

The Arab Gulf Emirates has invested in Pakistan (325,000 ha), and in Sudan (400,000 ha).

Egypt has invested in Uganda (850,000 ha). 

Libya has invested in Ukraine (250,000 ha), and Liberia (5,000 ha). 

Qatar invested in the Philippines (100,000 ha).

Africa is the remaining poorest continent with vast fertile lands and plenty of manpower to exploit for agribusiness enterprises. Africa is targeted to be exclusively the world’s food basket in this century.

We hope that the world community will pressure these investors to grow food slowly and not ruin the remaining land with fertilizers and pesticides.

We hope that the African can enjoy what the lands are producing for their daily staples…

We hope the African people get first cut at the distribution of food produced and receive first priority to ward off recurring famine…

Note: You may read the follow-up post https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/the-worlds-food-basket-africa-is-heaven-for-agro-business-investments-part-2/

BANG, not the Big One: Tell me more; (October 23, 2009)

 

            Bits, atoms, neurons, and genes form the acronym BANG.  Several disciplines in chemistry, biology, molecular sciences, pharmacology, genetics, electronics, and physics have one thing in common: nano-particles; it opened wide a trillion dollars industries with no check and balance.  In 1960, many developed nations had surpluses of food stuff; this is no longer the case.  It is predicted that by 2017 famine will be the lot of 70 impoverished States harming 1.2 billion human.

            Actually, antitrust laws are so far not being applied to the six organically modified seeds industries that share scientific discoveries and have sole monopoly of 90% of organic seeds.  Monsano, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, Syngena, Bayer, and Dupont have deposited more than 500 patents on genes “adapting to climatic changes”; in another word, how to profit from degradation of the environment.  In 2008, Monsato has increased by 35% the prices on organically modified seeds that it has exclusive rights to produce and distribute. Monsano and Dow Agrosciences associated to produce in 2010 genetically modified wheat seeds that can withstand 8 kinds of “natural enemies”, mainly herbicides and insecticides; thus, 87% of modified seeds used around the world bear the label Monsano.

            The multinational oil companies of BP, Shell, Chevron, and Cargill are linking up with these nano-sciences of agro-technologies to transform biological matters such as (agricultural harvest, forests, algae…) into industrial sugar; then converting sugar into chemical products and nano-products with high added values. Chemistry linked to oil products could now be adapted to vegetable carbon.  Entire countries such as Madagascar and Angola are now being leased to cultivate modified breeds of harvests.

            The scientific counselor to Barak Obama, John Holdren, is encouraging the application of geo-engineering to fighting atmospheric changes.  Among such engineering techniques is sprinkling the atmosphere with nano-particles of sulfates to veil the sunrays.  Monster farms of phytoplankton are created to absorb or capture CO2.

            The UN views these geo-engineering projects as purely speculative in nature with unknown risks for collateral damages.  A joint Indo-German oceanographic Institute discarded the decision of the Conference of the UN and carried on its project: it “fertilized” a large zone in the Antarctic Ocean by dumping tons of iron sulfates; the microscopic unicellular algae were meant to grow in abundance and capture CO2.  The zooplankton ate the algae and the experiment was not conclusive; this temporary failure is encouraging other multinationals such as Climos Inc. or (Planktos Science) to resume these kinds of projects under the name of “eco-restoration” for substantial financial returns.           

 

Note 1: 94% of US citizens have the toxic substance biphenyl (BPA) in their system.  This is due to the fact that baby milk bottles were manufactured since 1930 with this synthesized chemical product that proved to render plastic more malleable and supple. A substitute of this product, diethylstilbestrol, that has female sexual hormone characteristics, was widely prescribed to pregnant women in the 70’s with devastating consequences to malformed newborns.

 

Note 2:  Most of the information was taken from the French monthly journal “Le Monde Diplomatic” of October 2009.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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