Land Rush, Day 1: Food availability doesn’t always equal food access

Echoing Constance Mogale’s point, Prof Ruth Hall (PLAAS/Future Agricultures) explained that large scale land deals are not just creating land loss, but are actually restructuring the entire food system towards a model in which the food system is controlled and owned by multinational corporations. Corporate farming is leading to the supermarketisation of the food system, limiting access for those who cannot pay. She gave the example of South Africa, where most food is produced by the corporate sector. South Africa is food secure, produces abundant food and even exports food, yet many South Africans are going hungry, simply because they cannot afford to buy it.

While African governments enter into investment deals under the belief that large scale commercial farming will improve the lot of the hungry populations, the evidence from these examples suggests the opposite: these types of land deals often make the vulnerable even more vulnerable. Therefore it is essential that African governments look more closely at the fine print of such deals. They must ensure that the benefits of investment will accrue to their populations, not just to profit-hungry corporate investors.