Land Grab and the false promise of food security
One can only speculate why the secretive government of Ethiopia is giving away the country’s fertile land to foreign agribusinesses. But we know the official explanation; that is, such ‘long-sought’ agricultural investments enhance the country’s food security. For a country that is intuitively associated with hunger and starvation, there should indeed be no higher priority than food security. Yet, how agricultural production by profit-driven foreign businesses improves the food security of poor Ethiopians is not terribly clear. Indeed, compelling empirical and theoretical evidences show that increased food production per se doesn’t necessarily correlate to any improvement in the food security of people in any country. That is what I wish to discuss here. Before turning to this issue, however, a word or two on the equivocal concept of food security is in order.
A. Food Security: What is It?
The notion of food security, like GDP, conceals more than it reveals about how the actual lives of people go. It may mean different things, depending on whose security is at stake. Generally, food security is raised at three different levels:
global, national, familial...