(FinalCall.com) – Critics say the World Bank is helping multi-national corporations and global investors access cheap land in Africa and other developing countries at the expense of local economies.

A case in point, in the British daily The Guardian, shows foreign investors purchasing nearly one-fifth of the West African country of Sierra Leone’s arable land.

The spokesperson for the Malen Land Owners Association, Eddy Amara traveling to the assembly in the West African country’s southern Pujehun district, “where a controversial palm oil investment has become a symbol of rising tensions over large-scale agribusiness investments in the country,” according to The Guardian.


Amara traveled to the district to show his opposition to the securing of a 50-year lease for 6,500 hectares (each hectare equals 2,471 acres) of farmland for a paltry annual rent of $5 per hectare. The purchase was made by Socfin SL, a subsidiary of the Belgian investment company Societe Financiere des Caoutchouces. Socfin is one of the world’s largest plantation investors. Amara, not only claims the project has failed to bring promised jobs and income to local communities, but, in addition, he has been pushed off of his land and now struggles to feed his family.

The land grab is continent wide, according to a subsequent story reported in The Guardian.

“The World Bank is helping corporations and international investors snap up cheap land in Africa and developing countries worldwide at the expense of local communities,” environment and farm groups charged in a recent statement. The groups included Friends of the Earth International and international peasants’ group La Via Campesina. The groups have for years charged the World Bank has pushed African and other governments to privatize land “and focus on industrial farming.”

In addition, they voiced concern over the bank playing a major role in a global rush for farmland by providing capital and guarantees to big multinational investors.

(Jehron Muhammad writes from Philadelphia and can be reached at [email protected].)

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