The future of Uganda is in danger: Stop Land grabbing!
Slow Food Uganda has officially launched the campaign “Our Future is in Danger: Stop Land Grabbing!” The campaign aims to raise awareness about land grabbing* and its consequences among the population and stimulate political debate at all levels, from civil society to local authorities and Parliament. The campaign will run for several weeks in the first quarter of 2018 in different districts of Central and Eastern Uganda
Around the world, huge tracts of fertile land are being sold or rented for extremely low prices. Tens of millions of hectares have been surrendered in recent years to produce food crops for export or bio fuels, to extract resources or to resell the land on the financial market, like any other commodity. This so-called land grabbing is severely threatening the environment, food sovereignty and the very lives of local communities.
Uganda has been affected by land grabbing for more than a decade. Land grabbing is the acquisition (lease, concession, or outright purchase) by corporations or states of large areas of land on a long-term basis (often 30 to 99 years). Compared to other countries like Ethiopia and Tanzania, land grabbing in Uganda is less evident (no massive land evictions or fights with armed groups) and it is taking different forms.
- Agribusiness: is the main purpose, whereby big pieces of land are grabbed to develop profitable crops like sugarcane, palm oil, rice, sunflower, or to be used for intensive animal farming.
- The carbon market: This is also relevant as extensive plantations of exotic trees like pine or eucalyptus are established in exchange for carbon credits for large foreign firms (under the Kyoto Protocol developed countries can offset their carbon emissions by buying carbon credits from projects in the developing world through the so-called Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)).
- Land speculation: is more linked to local investors who – thanks to their proximity to local politicians and advanced knowledge of a project’s status – buy land at a cheap price from small-scale farmers and then sell it for a very high price.
All areas affected by land grabbing around Uganda are known for their rich tropical biodiversity, important cultural legacy, and as food baskets, not only for themselves but for their neighboring communities. Land grabbers are characteristically known to erode these values and violate community land rights, denying access to grazing lands, water, forests and other natural resources. The excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides in sugarcane and palm oil mono cultures has reportedly compromised the health of communities. Small-scale farmers are forced to move away.
The increase of land grabbing in Uganda galvanized Slow Food Uganda to plan for an important campaign to fight against this phenomenon. Most Ugandans are not aware of land grabbing until it happens. It is our duty to raise awareness among the population and to inform them about what is happening. Land grabbing is a big threat to peoples’ rights as well as the food sovereignty of the country. “Let’s Expose Land Grabbing!”
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