If I Were Prime Minister…
I would not allow one man’s livelihood to become another man’s gold mine.
(This was written for ONE Campaign | Volunteer Ambassador, 2015–2017)
One of the top priorities for the Sustainable Development Goals is to ‘End Poverty In All Its Forms Everywhere’ by 2030.
There are over 7.5 billion people in the world, and although the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day has halved since the 1990s, 795 million still survive on this amount a day or less.
If we are to have any form of global financial equality to end the perennial ache for the people who suffer from extreme poverty, then we need to enforce land grabbing transparency and ensure it’s mutually beneficial to the native people as well.
If I were Prime Minister, I would invest in lands and farmers to replenish existing agriculture, and not permit UK/foreign companies and private investors to land grab from the poorest countries without greatly benefitting the locals, as this hugely discourages an even distribution of global wealth.
“75% of the world’s poorest people… live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihood.”
The Hunger Project
Vulnerable poor people and weak policies are more susceptible to foreign land acquisitions as they do not have robust domestic government infrastructure to defend against such takeovers. These acquisitions, whether the size of a football pitch or larger scale acquisitions increases poverty, which directly undermines the Sustainable Development Goals and socioeconomic equal rights of the native people. In some instances, consent from local communities and farmers are not even obtained! Adding salt to the wound, the foreign land grabbers are inclined to export the majority of the commodities produced, to better line their already overflowing pockets.
“Up to 500 million acres are thought to have been grabbed so far, much of it in Africa. This is the equivalent to 8 times the size of the UK.”
Friends of the Earth
Land grabbing investments without transparency results in farmers and families being displaced due to foreign investors failing to keep their promises and/or agriculture ecosystems not put in place. These investments are not in favour of ending poverty, but actively prolonging their hardships.
The problem is domestic regulations have failed
If I were Prime Minister, I would iron out these investment policies to be fully transparent, mitigated, and not allow them to ever be viable (without exception) if they instigate conflict of local interest. The framework of the land sales would be detailed in a succinct manner to help maintain, enhance and deliver the necessary commodity to sustain a more humane standard of living for the communities involved. There should never be a threat to ancestral land where disingenuous investors are not accounting for local food sovereignty.
“A study of the economic impact of land grabbing on rural livelihoods estimates that the total income loss for local communities is $34 billion worldwide.”
The UK has the Green Belt Policy to retain land and control urban growth
Land retention is exactly what is required to tie stringent ribbons around the agricultural land of the poorest countries with domestic prosperity in mind, and not take away the local people’s base from the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
“One of the highest development priorities in the world must be to improve smallholder agricultural productivity, especially in Africa.”
In instances such as these, the land could never be owned by foreign bodies, hence, could only be leased (benefitting the native owners). Also, only domestic laborers would be trained/employed, and an agreed percentage of the commodity produced would be heavily subsidised as an offering to the local people.
I had a meeting with Diane Abbott (British Labour Party politician and the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development) regarding the disparities of poverty, she stated:
“Sometimes the issue is not the absolute poverty of the country, but the fact that the elites are not making sure that poor people are helped, but of course its very important that a country like Britain does contribute towards international aid.”
The common consensus may well be that UK poverty should be addressed before attempting to aid international poverty issues. However, poverty in the UK in comparison to how people live below the line in developing countries is relatively high.
There’s enough food resources in the world, we just need to create an even distribution of these resources — this partially stems from discouraging financial greed and corporate growth by initiating further development for the poorest countries who ironically have the richest natural resources.
Thus, as Prime Minister, it’s crucial to have a refined policy actualised to eradicate extreme poverty. Profitable agribusiness investors, starting with UK investors, should be fully regulated before they even approach International governments. We must act now by holding land-grabbing investors responsible or even freezing investments completely for a fairer society.
The world needs justice and an economic uplift; we need to honour this cause with equal customary rights, and the freedom of growth, in turn, global continuity spread in abundance.
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