In 2008 South Korea, via Daewoo Logistics, bought up half the arable land of Madagascar, or 1.3 million hectares, thereby outsourcing a Korean geography too cramped to feed its native population. It did so to the great displeasure of Madagascans, 70 percent of whom live below the poverty line.
Given the current systemic crisis and having lost confidence in the financial markets, where prices have become too volatile, rich countries are buying themselves faraway lands, at low cost, relaunching the old slogan of the colonial empire: Here begins elsewhere!
What we’re seeing since the crash is the mad rush of sovereign wealth funds on the territorial sovereignty of states. And, because agricultural land prices are low, it’s an excellent deal, one that ensures tomorrow’s supplies are secure.
“With $50 billion, you could buy the Amazon,” declared Swedish-born billionaire Johan Eliasch, at that time environmental consultant to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, promptly sparking the ire of the Brazilian president. Similarly, on northern Argentina this time: “A hectare of land is worth barely more than a hamburger!”
Now there’s a vision of the future of the geo-economic appetite of the well-heeled for you, as well as of the voraciousness of the agrobusiness multinationals.