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World Bank/FAO: Deceptive Fortune Tellers

Commercial agriculture in Africa

The dimensions are truly gigantic: „A vast stretch of African savannah land that spreads across 25 countries has the potential to turn several African nations into global players in bulk commodity production“, reads a press release from the FAO. Four million km2 of Guinea Savannah, „one of the largest underused agricultural land reserves in the world“, could be developed for commercial agriculture, says a new FAO-World Bank study reviewed by Uwe Hoering.


The promises made by the study, jointly commissioned by the World Bank and the FAO (see reference), are based on the historical comparison with two areas, one in Asia, one in Latin America, with similar unfavourable conditions like the African savannah: abundant but unreliable rainfall patterns, poor soils and a high population density in the case of Thailand's North East, and remoteness, soils prone to acidity and toxicity and low population in the case of Brazil's Cerrado. In spite of such physical disadvantages, in both countries governments created the conditions for agricultural growth, „characterized by favourable macroeconomic policies, adequate infrastructure, a strong human capital base, competent government administration, and political stability“. Today, these regions are important agricultural producers, in Thailand mainly commercially oriented small-scale farms, in Brazil mainly large scale plantations ...

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