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By Gustavo Duch
It is also present on the agendas of multinational organizations such as the World Bank or FAO, which, although they also stop to observe the process of progressive grabbing of good peasant lands, instead of considering how to stop this plunder, they are backing it with programs aimed at validating some of these operations, arguing that 'there may be good hoardings'.
And finally, various governmental and non-governmental institutions are analyzing what happens to the agrarian land of the European countries, since, as we will see, the greed for control of it is related to very severe conflicts. If we collect the synthesis of the studies of the GRAIN Foundation and the Transnational Institute we notice that, as in practically the whole world, also in Europe, in recent decades, the process of land concentration at the hands of agrarian elites who yearn for the benefits of the land understood as a simple commodity. And it is that whoever controls the fertile land, like a magic ring, has access to profit from food production but also from agrofuels or speculating with a finite good that, like oil, is declining. This trend is taking place both in the German locomotive (in 1967 there were a total of 1,246,000 agricultural farms and now there are barely 299,000 farms); as for example, in Catalunya.
According to the data provided by Carles Soler from the magazine Soberanía Alimentaria, we see that of the 127,000 agricultural farms that existed in 1982, we have gone to some 58,000 farms where the concentration is very significant, since 42% of them have less than 5 Ha but barely They represent 5% of the cultivated agricultural area, while 4.8% of the farms are large farms that account for almost 45% of the total area. In fact, only 104 farms are the owners of more than 13% of the cultivated area. But where the phenomenon reaches the greatest dimensions is in the countries of Eastern Europe.
In these countries, entry into the EU meant for many and many small producers not being able to compete with highly subsidized agricultural products from the Union, leading to the sale of their land to this elite of speculators / investors.
Well-known are the cases of Chinese companies that have taken over land in Bulgaria for the large-scale production of maize or that of Middle Eastern companies in Romania for the same purposes. The case to be highlighted, and the one that merits all this prior reflection, is the specific case of Ukraine, a territory that, if it is currently in dispute, is also in dispute, due to the value of its land. Some data show us how years before the current war conflict the interest in their lands was very present.
According to a report by the Oakland Institute of the USA, more than 1.6 million hectares of land passed into the hands of multinational companies in less than ten years, “including more than 405,000 hectares to a company registered in Luxembourg, 444,800 hectares to investors registered in Cyprus, 120,000 hectares to a French company and 250,000 hectares to a Russian one ”.
The presence of the most powerful multinationals in the agricultural sector, were also playing their tricks, such as Monsanto that develops a program, “Grain Basket of the Future”, which offers loans to ensure control of production; or Cargill, which invested 200 million dollars in one of the large business holding companies, the UkrLandFarming, which concentrates a large part of all the land in Ukraine. And in January of this year, shortly before the first protests, an agreement was signed between China and Ukraine that granted control of 3 million hectares of first quality to Beijing, which is equivalent to an area similar to all of Galicia .
Is it reckless to argue that the wars of the 21st century have to do with hunts for agrarian land? In my opinion, not, if we take into account one last piece of information: for many analysts Ukraine is not only the third world exporter of cotton and the fifth of wheat, but the quality and extension of its land allows us to anticipate that in a few years it could to become the second world exporter of grains, only behind the USA. Isn't this a reason to want your control?