Oxfam Society to ‘grab’ the high ground

Lancaster University’s Oxfam Society is to make a stand on Tuesday 1st November to highlight the injustices of the ‘land grabs’ which occur in Uganda.

A recent press release from the society explained the need for such a stand. After “the food price spikes of 2008, wealthy companies have invested heavily in cheap agricultural land in poor countries, often for commercial use”, it explained, exploiting both the land and the local labour.

This land is regularly left fallow by the investors so as to maximise its profit and often results in a reduction in food production. Poor local families make use of the land in order to survive and are frequently expelled without prior warning.

The Oxfam Society intends to seize part of Alexandra Square from 11am-4pm in order to protest and raise awareness about this kind of land grabbing.

President Amy O’Neill hopes that stunt will show students the problems that it causes, “hopefully, even on such a small scale it will give people a small idea of what these communities go through and make them want to act” she said.

Initial studies show that since 2001 up to 227m hectares of land have been licensed, leased and sold to international investors. This ‘land-rush’ has one motive only, to increase production of food for the international market. As a result, bio fuel targets are breached and the rights and needs of locals are, more often than not, neglected, ignoring the global safeguards which exist for the poor. The most vulnerable of victims are the women, who produce up to 80% of the food in these deprived countries.

The society feel it is time “for effective global rules to get land grabs under control – rules, which ensure local communities, see the benefits of investments and which help make sure that governments provide secure access to land for smallholder farmers.”

They went on to explain that the demonstration in Alexandra Square “hopes to raise awareness of the problem of land grabs and promote the ‘Grow Campaign’” along with encouraging people to “lobby their MPs and contact companies”, leading to “external enquiries into how they are gaining land in these countries”.

For more information you can visit http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get_involved/campaign/food/.

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