New president at the World Bank: more of the same on land grabbing?
Published: 13 Apr 2012
Posted in:  GRAIN | World Bank
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Dr Okonjo-Iweala flanked by Irish singer-activists Bono and Bob Geldof, in 2007. Geldof actually runs a $200 million private equity fund that is investing in agribusiness in Africa.
GRAIN | 13 April 2012

According to worldbankpresident.org, Nigeria's finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is in the lead to become the next World Bank president. A former managing director of the Bank, Okonjo-Iweala took a prominent role in presenting to the public the Bank's study on landgrabbing when it was finally released in 2010. Her stance on the issue? Large scale land deals are "a growing reality", and the "veil of secrecy" around them must be lifted so that poor people don't lose their lands. In plain English, she is not against these land deals. (The same can be said of most, if not all, African governments.) She seems to support instead the win-win approach to land grabbing championed by the Bank from the get go. This means crafting and implementing the deals with due regard for human rights and social concerns, environmental protections, fair wages, compensations and so on. But no fundamental opposition to the kind of agriculture or food system or shifts in power that these massive land deals, pimped as "investments", carry with them. Or so, in all fairness, we shall see.

The site worldbankpresident.org is also running a public opinion poll (snapshot below) on what are the most urgent  issues that the new chief of the World Bank needs to deal with. Land grabbing is up there in the top ranks.

Poll: Priorities for reform at the World Bank

(click for full size view)

Investments/advice related to land grabs:

One of the hottest controversies in development now is cross-border acquisition of agricultural land. Foreign investors have been accused of “land grabs”, and the Bank has been accused of both funding such grabs as well as setting up the investment framework that facilitates them. NGOs want the World Bank and its International Finance Corporation (IFC) to stop promoting large scale land acquisitions. They believe they should rather support governments and institutions that can provide credit and assistance to family farming and sustainable forms of agriculture, as well as to firms that provide services and markets for small farmers.

Source:GRAIN