11 Jun 2011

Foreign firms buying up land in Africa - report

7:30 am on 11 June 2011

A United States-based think-tank says global food price rises are being made worse by international investment funds buying up large swathes of farmland in Africa.

The Oakland Institute says land formerly used to produce food is being bought by investment, pension and hedge funds to grow export crops such as biofuel and flowers, the BBC reports.

The institute says the acquisitions, often carried out without proper contracts, have displaced millions of small farmers.

Executive director Anuradha Mittal says there should be a moratorium on such land deals.

The institute studied land deals in Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Mali and Mozambique.

In 2009 alone, it says, hedge funds and other speculators bought or leased nearly 60 million hectares of land in Africa - an area the size of France.