DAN RATHER REPORTS” TRAVELS TO AFRICA TO FIND THE NEXT AGRICULTURAL POWERHOUSE
Will a plan to build massive farms in Africa help to feed the continent – or is it just a “land grab?” Tuesday, September 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET
DALLAS (September 26, 2011) –Tomorrow night, “Dan Rather Reports” travels to Tanzania to investigate a plan underway that would see more than a hundred thousand refugees moved from their homes and replaced by a massive commercial farm to be owned and operated by American investors.
With global population set to rise by two billion by mid-century and an estimated 90 percent of the world’s arable land already being cultivated, scientists worry that we could be on the brink of a global food crisis. And with the land going for pennies on the dollar, big U.S. investors have started putting money into agriculture in Africa. But, they are not just buying commodities or stock – investors are buying the farmland directly.
One of these U.S. investors is AgriSol Energy - and some are skeptical that their investment in Tanzania is anything more than a “land grab.”
AgriSol Energy is headed by Bruce Rastetter, an large-scale agricultural operator and major player in Iowa business and politics. Now Rastetter and his colleagues are hoping to export their Iowa agribusiness know-how to approximately 800,000 acres of land in western Tanzania. But why might one of the world's most respected agricultural universities - Iowa State - be helping to seal the deal? And what will happen to the over 125,000 refugees who currently call that very land their home?
“We walk with no peace in our hearts,” says refugee and farmer Sembuli Masasa, “We are miserable to know that we will be moving.”
But, the project has the blessing of the Tanzanian government with one of the biggest proponents being Tanzania’s own Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda.“Surely one would not be naïve to that, to accept an investor into an area at this kind, provided it’s well balanced, provided it has a effect on people around [and] enable [them] to have access to a better market. Definitely it would be a very good idea,” Pinda tells “Dan Rather Reports.”
Africa is now a hot spot for foreign investors in everything from agriculture to precious metals. And according to world-renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs, if the investment is handled properly, it could make a huge difference in that part of the world. But if the investments are given away, these people in one of the poorest parts of the planet get little or nothing in return.
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