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Foreign private investment in African agriculture: more jobs or land grabbing?

Mary Wargbo, her son and daughter work in a rice field in Lofa County, Liberia
Mary Wargbo, her son and daughter work in a rice field in Lofa County, Liberia Getty Images

The United Nations-sponsored third International Conference on Financing for Development in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa wrapped up on Thursday, where topics included the use of the agriculture sector as a way of transforming African economies.

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Creating jobs - Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, Nairobi, Kenya

"The real capital is coming from the private sector, a private sector that has knowledge, that has capacity in terms of resources, but also in terms of agricultural knowledge to drive what needs to happen to have the right agricultural outputs happening on the continent. So, we are beginning to see a lot of that and the African Union and World Bank working together to put in place what we call Grow Africa where foreign, private investors come together and start looking at opportunities on the continent. So really, it’s about providing a market for smallholder farmers, but also adding value and if this value is added on the continent, that will create jobs for our young people."

Controlling the land - David Ange Baimey, GRAIN, Accra, Ghana

“Many years ago, it was [African] farmers and communities who had the knowledge, the good knowledge to take care of the soil and take care of the land. And now, the reality is that the agri-business comes in to start an organization with local industry to come in […] it’s not that agri-business is coming in to help the African. It is not to help. It is just to do business. So we are really concerned about that. It is not for our community […] it is just to control the land and do business.”

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