Greenwise: UK food security under threat from land grabbing by multinational firms, say MPs

June 5, 2013

Saran Mishra, June 4- For the sake of the UK consumers and food security, a group of MPs is asking UK-based corporations to be absolutely transparent about land deals abroad.

The International Development Committee is concerned that large, multinational corporations are buying up large areas of land that were previously being farmed by smallholders. According to the Committee’s first report, Global Food Security, if the issue goes unnoticed, the UK consumer could be the sufferer because smallholder farmers will play the biggest role in feeding the rising global population as well as reducing rural poverty. According to the report, MPs also have urged the Department for International Development (DfID) to devote more of its budget to supporting the formation of inclusive farmer organisations and co-operatives that can help smallholders engage with large corporations or wider markets for their agricultural products.

“UK aid to help smallholders increase food production in the developing world is of direct benefit to UK consumers as rising world food prices will reduce living standards of hard-pressed UK consumers,” Sir Malcolm Bruce, chairman of the Committee said.

“We challenge DfID to support additional projects to develop robust land registration systems, as it already does in Rwanda and plans to do in Ethiopia,” he added.

The UK imports 40 per cent of its food. The report says it is therefore crucial to keep food costs down worldwide, otherwise consumers risk food shortages in the UK.

The report recommends introducing a nationwide campaign that targets domestic food waste as well as waste along the production line as a means of combatting spikes in food costs at home. It suggests one way to monitor the programme would be to establish sanctions for companies that fail to meet the quotas set forward.