November 18, 2009
[Muammar Gaddafi] warned the other assembled leaders at the [World Summit on Food Security] that foreign companies that are procuring massive tracts of farmland in Africa are becoming the continent's “new feudal lords," reports Reuters.
“In Africa, foreign investors buy farmland, transforming themselves into new feudal lords against whom we must fight,” Gaddafi said at the summit. Indeed many are calling the ominous development a massive "land grab," and the UK's Times Online went so far as to dub it "modern imperialism."
Investors from rich countries have snapped up some 50 million acres of land across Africa in the past year and a half, according to the UK's Independent. Just last week, Ethiopia decided to lease 7.4 million acres of farmland to investors over the next three years, Bloomberg reports. The United Nations is creating a “code of conduct” for such leasing activities, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has called for a global watchdog "with teeth."
Not only did Gaddafi crack some skulls with his "feudal lord" comments, but he also said that his continent's other terrorizing problem is the “monopolisation of seeds by companies that I would describe as diabolical.” He called on the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to "dismantle this monopoly in all countries."
It's just too bad most of the heads of state from rich countries weren't there to be cracked. Among the approximately 60 heads of state and government present at the summit, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was the only one from a G-8 nation.