Face the Truth: Europe’s Biofuels Bonanza Causes Hunger in Africa
by David Cronin (New Europe Online) …The production of biofuels is a central factor behind the grabbing of land in Africa. Yet rather than using food crops, many of the players in this murky game have recently chosen jatropha, a poison, as the fuel source for the SUVs congesting our roads. A recent study by the campaign group ActionAid, however, explained how the proliferation of jatropha plantations is causing malnutrition rates to climb.
In 2009, the British-registered firm Sun Biofuels started clearing land in Kisaware, Tanzania, to set up an 8,200 hectare plantation. By the middle of last year, it had planted 2,000 hectares of jatropha. ActionAid undertook a survey of people from the 11 villages whose land was taken over for the plantation. More than 80% of respondents said they had not received any payment from Sun. Meanwhile, the area devoted to food crops has fallen by 14% and local harvests by 11% in order to make way for jatropha. Declining incomes have meant that many villagers, including children, can only afford two meals a day, whereas they previously ate three.
Nearly 5% of Africa has been bought by private interests since 2000, according to Land Matrix, an online database. This means that an area the size of Kenya – one of the continent’s biggest countries – has been snatched up. READ MORE and MORE (The Guardian)