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Thursday, 15 April 2010

EU urges responsible foreign farmland investments in Africa

The European Union has urged foreign investors in agricultural land in developing regions such as Africa to respect local human rights, livelihoods and resources. Sharp rises in global food prices in 2008 prompted major food importers such as Saudi Arabia, China and South Korea to lease farmland abroad - often in Africa - to secure food for their populations. But critics including the EU have warned that such deals, described by some as land-grabbing, are often not transparent and can compromise the livelihoods of local farmers in developing countries. The paper proposes a new EU policy framework for combating food security problems in developing countries. It said support should focus on increasing food production by small-scale farmers in countries at risk, particularly in Africa and South Asia and called for an "ecologically efficient intensification" of food production by smallholder producers, especially women farmers, by providing better access to resources including land, water, credit and other agricultural inputs. But it said such intensification should not promote technologies that are not sustainable or are incompatible with national capacity to regulated and manage risks. Other EU priorities should include a 50 percent increase in support to "demand-led" agricultural research, and a focus on improving the nutritional quality of food.

Source: The Guardian