Tuesday, June 05, 2012

China's foreign farmland acquisitions

Back in March (Broad Oak Blog), I argued that the USA's future is not so bleak, when you consider her natural resources, especially farmland:

You can see that China's ratio is very low, and what with an expanding population, an improving diet, the grabbing of rural land by corrupt regional officials for speculative building projects, growing air and water pollution etc the demand for farmland is intensifying.

And China is doing something about it. In January, its Hong-Kong based Phoenix Weekly publication announced that 8,000 square kilometers of foreign arable land have been acquired so far, some recently in Australia (where cattlemen are arguing that the latest 400 sq mile project won't work) and New Zealand. As with all tussles over limited resources, this is bound to be controversial, so the next step is attempts to avoid scrutiny of the process.

Food prices and shortages are moving up from a Third World to a First World issue - see farmlandgrab.org for ongoing coverage from around the world. And if China should begin eyeing Russia's fertile soil? 

Then there's the world of professional investment - one of the longer running funds being the CF Eclectica Agriculture Fund. This is yet another area fraught with moral dilemma - making money for you and yours (or your clients), but at the price of soaring food costs and ultimately, starvation for many. If we make a fuss about "blood diamonds", how much more so should we raise objections to "blood farmland"?

Greed, and suffering. The sooner we move away from the over-financialised economy and back to sound money, making things and exchanging our surpluses, the better.


James Higham said...

It's really quite artificial, the food price soaring and the people behind it are so difficult to pin down and get to.

Paddington said...

Don't ignore the fact that modern farming requires a lot of fuel, plus the costs of transportation.