South Africa: When Mining Defeats Farming, the People Lose Their Food

In many parts of Africa and South America, rural development is a game of tug-of-war: Farmers and agriculturalists on one side of the rope, and domestic and international mining giants on the other side.

I was sitting at a high-level policy round table earlier this week. The question at hand: could (and should) soybean production be increased in South Africa? After all, demand is increasing across the region. Soybeans are critical for animal feed – and as incomes rise, so does the demand for animal products.

As agribusiness executives quipped back and forth, one asked:

“Why can’t we expand soy production in Mpumalanga?”

Because the mining houses beat you in the competition for land and you can’t share – because the environmental damage can be irreversible in some cases.

In many parts of Africa and South America, rural development is a game of tug of war: farmers and agriculturalists on one side of the rope, and domestic and international mining giants on the other side. Historically, government policies have often favoured the extractors – it was easy to “get rich quick” at the expense of farmers.

In recent months, farmers in Peru’s central Arequipa region have led a protest against…

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Author: skvaller

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