UN warns of food “neo-colonialism”

As food-importing countries increasingly lease farmland overseas to improve their food security, the Financial Times reported the United Nations' top agriculture official as warning the trend risks creating a "neo-colonial" system.

Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said the risk "is of creating a neo-colonial pact for the provision of non-value-added raw materials in the producing countries and unacceptable work conditions for agricultural workers."

Middle Eastern and North African countries, as well as other food-importing nations such as China, plan to lease vast tracts of land in Africa and Asia to grow crops and ship them back to their markets.

Countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Ukraine are opening their doors. Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia, was reported as saying his government was "very eager" to provide hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land for investment.

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