The world’s economic powers are engaged in a new wave of outsourcing – one that poses a stark distinction with that of manufacturing in the 1980s, and information technology in the 1990s, according to a recent report in The Economist (“Buying Farmland Abroad: Outsourcing’s Third Wave,” May 23, 2009). Concerned by recent world food shortages, rich governments are buying up tracks of land in foreign (mostly low-income) countries to ensure continued access to food and other vital agricultural resources.
In Sudan, Africa’s largest country, the article reports that a fifth of all cultivated land is being set aside for Arab governments to grow staple grains and biofuels. China is buying up large tracts in Zambia and Congo for biofuels production. In Zambia’s capital Lusaka, a quarter of all eggs sold come from local farmland owned by the Chinese government. In total, the article reports, an amount of land equivalent to the total agricultural land of France and a fifth of all farmland in the European Union has been set aside for use by wealthy foreign governments.
If the government really want to insure food security they should buy the foreign land because it is very good policy.
If governments wanted a policy tool to maintain sovereignty over their precious resources, they could implement a Land Rent system, where each year the owner of land would have ot pay land rent to the government. There is such power in this system that inefficient taxes such as VAT or income taxes could be halved/ culled.
What we are seeing is speculators buying up prime locations that are well serviced by water and infrastructure. A land rent system ensures that as this land increases in value, the local community gets a share of the scarcity rents. At least food will be grown under this system.
If we dont the speculators will extort the market, pushing land prices and thus food prices up beyond the average wage earner.
Foreign ownership laws maty be the only way to stop it outright