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Over at Poverty News Blog, they're discussing African land grabs—a relatively recent phenomenon where wealthier countries, like the oil emirates of the Persian Gulf, lease agricultural land in Africa or other developing areas on the cheap. Some have argued that this can boost the local African economies and result in improvements to infrastructure, but according to Poverty News Blog, "a leaked World Bank report" suggests that—surprise, surprise—this might not be beneficial to the countries whose land is being leased.

The blog post sites a story from the UK's Guardian newspaper:

"The growing interest has prompted the World Bank to launch its own research into how developing nations could benefit from the foreign money. The full report is due any day now but the release has already been delayed several times. A leaked draft suggested that so far, wealthy investors have largely threatened local resources and exploitatively targeted countries with lax laws and low charges."

Last summer, Heifer's World Ark magazine ran a feature story [links to page turner] by David Montero, originally from The Christian Science Monitor, on this very issue:

"... [C]ountries desperate to boost farming amid the ongoing food crisis are turning to global outsourcing. Japan has bought up plots in Brazil, and South Korea large tracts in Madagascar ...

"While it may bring succor to countries squeezed by high prices, it may also incite conflict and poverty, some experts warn. In August, Jacques Diouf, director-general of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture organization, warned against creating a kind of food 'neocolonialism,' with rich countries securing food supplies at the expense of poor farmers."

Read the article online. [links to page turner]

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Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.