Sunday, January 17, 2010

With sugar

If there's any lesson to be drawn from history, it's that
the powerful will go after what they can get when they
haven't got what they think they need. And they will
take it. Already yet. Korea's Daewoo Corporation has
leased half the arable land in Madagascar.

Any idle notion that manifestations of the above
phenomenon, about which I wrote a few days ago, will
be confined to 'developing' countries should be
dispelled by a feature article in yesterday's Dominion
about the expansion of corporate farming in New
Zealand and the growing appetite of foreign investors
for a piece of it. Writer Catherine Harris quotes Chris
Kelly, chief executive of the country's largest corporate
farming business, Landcorp, as saying that 'security of
supply of food' is an emerging geopolitical factor today,
and that Middle East countries in particular are
suddenly realizing that their populations are expanding
but their agricultural land is not—and they need more
food from somewhere. Singaporean, Japanese and
Russian companies are all listed in Harris's article as
having stakes in aspects of New Zealand agricultural

On top of that, the Chinese company Bright Food has
expressed an interest in buying the sugar-cane assets of
the Australian firm CSR, which owns 75% of the NZ
Sugar Company, manufacturer of the Chelsea brand. The
Chinese are of course only doing what European and
American imperialist enterprises have done for centuries
but they're not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts.
Whatever they do is ultimately for the benefit of Chinese
investors, producers and consumers. As competition for
the world's food (and water) resources heats up, New
Zealand may find that it has as little power to resist such
depredations as any 'developing' country does.

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