Agribusiness

Export-oriented industrial agriculture of a few globally traded commodities (like soy, maize and rice), as well as meat production, destroy forests, the diversity of seeds and small-scale farming systems. They also uproot established land use patterns and threaten food sovereignty.

Many oil palm plantations’ concessions in West and Central Africa were built on lands stolen from communities during colonial occupations. This is the case in the DRC, where food company Unilever began its palm oil empire. Today, these plantations are still sites of on-going poverty and violence. It is time to end the colonial model of concessions and return the land to its original owners.

Forest fires and deforestation are tools to consolidate the land grabbing that goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of the capitalist agricultural frontier into the territories of indigenous peoples and traditional communities.

Big polluters are making ‘net zero’ pledges to satisfy the financial players that fund them. So-called ‘nature-based solutions’ are at the core of these pledges –a new corporate brand for offsets.

WRM spoke with close allies from Brazil, Gabon, India, Mexico and Mozambique, to hear from them and learn about their understandings of development.

Communities have a long history of confronting the disasters imposed by corporations and elites. For them, the “emergency” was a reality well before the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, profit-seekers are abusing the situation to advance land grabs and roll back legislation.

From its first day in office, the government led by Jair Bolsonaro has been trying to undermine the constitutional rights of Indigenous Peoples and quilombola communities in Brazil. WRM spoke with the organization CIMI in the Western Amazon.

Agro- and meat industries are winning the jackpot with the Covid-19 pandemic. While the pandemic profits stay at the top, devastation is what trickles down to the bottom. The consequences are deadly. A new wave of structural adjustment is on the way that will focus on increasing foreign agribusiness investment and exports of agricultural commodities.

Members of the WRM’s Advisory Committee were invited to contribute to this special Bulletin with reflections on the devastating situation of deepening injustices that forest communities and peasant families around the world are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While it was easy to see the smoke from the forest fires in Brazil, it was much harder to see what was behind the Brazilian government’s smokescreen: actions that will lead the rainforest to a swift death, destroying territories, livelihoods and the diverse cultures.

“Shock” is a common reaction when a crisis emerges… or when it comes to light. However, it also provides a convenient smoke screen for governments, financial institutions and companies behind which they can hide their own role in and responsibility for the current crises in the forests.

The government claims that small-scale agriculture is responsible for deforestation. But this claim ignores government policies that drive land-use changes and destructive markets as well as the exclusion of indigenous peoples through the creation of reserves.

It is impossible to think about extraction without thinking about a vast network of accompanying infrastructure, and thus even greater deforestation and destruction.