Land grabbing has grown in popularity. A growing population has led to agriculture growing as an even bigger business. There will always be a demand for food, and this has led to the rich and big businesses taking control of rural communities.
The earnings are high, and the repayment period on the initial investment is just seven years at most.
Some people assume that big companies putting money into poorer countries and building new facilities with better construction methods such as agricutlural steel framed buildings, would result in the surrounding area benefitting, however land grabbing has a negative impact on the local people in almost all cases.
Theft and Pillaging
Land grabbing occurs in countries, such as Malaysia and Cambodia, where the residents are often poor. In the documentary, “Land Grabbing,” it was found that over 1,000 people in a village were evicted violently.
During the land grab, the profiteer burned down many of the residents’ houses.
In Africa, there is a huge business in agriculture, and they’re not afraid to steal farm land from the locals. Some, even the elderly, have their land taken from them as the local governments cooperate with corporations that become filthy rich in the process.
Politicians often own the companies involved in land grabs.
In Cambodia, for example, there is a major uptick in land grabbing due to the “Everything but Arms Treaty” that was signed with the European Union. Under the treaty, Cambodia can export sugar duty free.
Workers Are Degraded
Locals are often forced to work for the companies that steal their land. When this happens, many of the locals are forced to work long hours, and they’re degraded with an inspection when their shift comes to an end to ensure they haven’t stolen any crops during the day.
Some plantations also make workers recite a pledge daily.
These pledges are used to “brainwash” the employees to act in a certain way. For example, the pledge may state “I’m ashamed of myself when I make a mistake.”
Not All Land Grabs Are Violent
Some land grabs occur over a long period of time, or companies will form contracts with locals. These non-violent grabs do benefit some locals, but there are hidden concerns that often go overlooked.
Addax Bioenergy, operating in Africa, took over land without villagers understanding what would happen.
Many land owners didn’t understand what a hectacre was, or how much land was involved. The biggest concern is the chemical runoff that has seeped into the water supply.
Chemicals sprayed on the sugar cane are starting to run into the local water supply, and without Addax drilling a well for safe water, villagers fear that they’ll die as a result. Many animals have eaten the foliage near the sugarcane fields and died due to the harsh chemicals used.
If the companies took it upon them to invest in developing the local area and improving the local facilities ensuring the locals have water, shelter and food this would be a step in the right direction. There are a few examples where this has been the case and one development even had electric showers facilities fitted for the local community. However in most cases, there is no development of better facilities for locals – even when land grabs are renting the land rather than mere takeover. One of the biggest ongoing concerns is that water supplies are often granted to these major companies.
In 2016, when drought hit Africa, many local communities saw their drinking water diminish to near nothing.
The issue is that the corporations were granted the rights to the local water supply, and these companies used all of the water to ensure their crops persisted even though locals suffered. Locals, in the vast majority of cases, are worse off following land grabs even when the land is rented or sold off over a longer duration.