Other publications

In this section we list publications and materials that don't fit any of the other publication categories. They include publications written by GRAIN for others, and the results of collaborative research and writing projects with partners.

 

Connecting smallholders to markets

Supermarket watch Asia bulletin | 17 November 2016 | Other publications, corporations & trade

In 2014, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) established a special work area or “work-stream” on Connecting Smallholders to Markets with the aim of exploring the relationships between markets, food security and smallholder agriculture. Organisations of small-scale food producers in the CFS’s Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) decided to participate in this work-stream because it offered an opportunity to recognise the contributions of small-scale food producers to global food security and nutrition.

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Africa will be centre-stage at this year’s Conference of Parties on climate change (COP 22) in Marrakech. According to the Moroccan steering committee, this is the “African COP”. The event will feature an “Africa Pavilion”, with activities supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)—institutions that work to create favourable conditions for corporate investments in Africa. Thus, in Africa (and globally), the debate on climate change is captured by banks and corporations—the very institutions that, through their relentless pursuit of profit above all else, are the main drivers of global climate change.

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Pension funds fuel land grabs in Brazil

Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos, GRAIN, Inter Pares and Solidarity Sweden - Latin America | 03 November 2016 | Videos, Other publications, land

Around the world, farmers are losing their lands, often violently, to large companies and speculators who see farmland as a lucrative investment. But what are the complex mechanisms behind these processes? Could your pension fund be contributing to land grabbing in places like Brazil? This animated video shows how a global farmland fund, managed by US financial giant TIAA-CREF, used a complex company structure to avoid restrictions on foreign investment in farmland in Brazil. It then acquired lands from a Brazilian businessman who has used violence and fraud to grab large areas of farmland from small farmers and indigenous peoples.

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This issue of Supermarket watch Asia bulletin highlights the impacts of trade and investment agreements on farmers, fishers and street vendors. We begin with a statement from the international peasant movement La Vía Campesina on trade, markets and development, which was issued during the Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 17 – 22 July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. We then look at how Hanoi, Vietnam has criminalised street vendors who are already threatened by the expansion of foreign retailers caused by new trade regulations. Finally, we examine the experience of a food safety organisation in Thailand that is suing the Thai government over its failure to protect food safety with regards to fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets.

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The village of Yalifombo, on the banks of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was an essentially agricultural community. In this village it is possible to observe how the local economy, which revolved around traditional cultivation of oil palm, has collapsed from the dramatic increase in industrial plantations. Throughout the Congo Basin sub-region, whether in Mundemba (Cameroon) or Mboma (Gabon), we see agribusiness increasingly competing with local agricultural economies. The system that certain public policies promote today is destroying systems that have been beneficial to peasant communities for a long time.

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When the European colonizers invaded Central and West Africa during the nineteenth century, they came to understand (in a very narrow way) the possible wealth that could be generated from oil palm cultivation. They began taking over the local people’s large oil palm groves and tearing down forests to set up plantations. One of the pioneers of this effort was Britain’s Lord Leverhulme, who, through a campaign of terror against the local people, took over community palm groves and turned vast swathes of the Congo’s forests into slave plantations. His company’s oil palm plantations would eventually expand throughout West and Central Africa and then to Southeast Asia, and provide the foundation for the multinational corporation Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies.

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The Panama Papers leak has focused global attention on tax havens. While most of the initial stories have been about politicians, attention is slowly turning to corporations, by far the biggest users of tax havens. The top 50 US corporations alone are said to have hidden about US$1.4 trillion in tax havens. Food companies like Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM) and Wilmar are heavy users of offshore company structures.

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Ever since the ink dried on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), people have become aware of another mega-trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors in the Asia-Pacific region. Like the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) threatens to increase corporate power in member countries, leaving ordinary people with little recourse to assert their rights to things like land, safe food, life-saving medicines and seeds.

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2015 was a prolific year for GRAIN. We produced a large number of high impact research reports and databases that became reference points for many groups and individuals working on land, food, seed and climate-related issues—including many who don't necessarily agree with us. At the same time, we worked with partners on the ground, supporting their capacity and strategy building efforts and helping to mobilise international solidarity for their causes. We look forward to another great year of work helping to build stronger movements for diverse, community-based food systems around the world. 

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We are 40 participants who have united in Mundemba, Cameroon, for an international workshop on the tactics and strategies of oil palm companies, from 28 to 31 January 2016. We have gathered to share our experiences from Cameroon, West and Central Africa, Asia and South America, and to understand the realities of the local communities in Ndian Division, Southwest Region of Cameroon. We share the concerns of local communities regarding the growing interest in community land for corporate oil palm plantations. 

 

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