Segments in this Video

Food Crisis (01:40)


By the end of the twentieth century, world food prices were stable and hunger was declining. Following the 2008 food crisis, countries raced to buy cheap crop land in Africa.

Land Deals (01:30)

A politician denounces foreigners buying land in Mali. Others say land deals can benefit local communities, and must to survive politically.

Land Rush (01:33)

60% of available arable land is in Africa. Most Malians are farmers; a man accuses the government of selling their land to foreign investors.

Sosumar (01:49)

An American investor plans an industrial sugar operation in Mali, leasing land from the government. Family farmers will lose their land. The project could spark Mali's industrialization.

Investor's Vision for Agriculture (01:36)

An investor gets displaced farmers to become contracted sugar cane growers. A farmer says bad harvests have led millet farmers to agree to try something new. The investor talks about how he is bringing the farmers into the economy.

Jobs for Women (01:04)

Authorities brought Tian villagers together and told them they were pushing Sosumar through. A woman says women, who have not had jobs, have a lot to gain.

Traditional Farmer (01:39)

A family farmer in Mali says he has no interest in the sugar cane project; his ancestors farmed the hills and never asked for help. Agriculture is a way of life, and change creates uncertainty.

Opposing Foreign Land Grabs (01:25)

Farmers in a Mali village talk about the importance to farmers of owning land. White people know the value of money, and if they give money for the land, that means the land must be more valuable than money, one says.

Government-Business Partnership (03:58)

Mali's government approached an investor with the goal of transforming Mali into a sugar exporting nation. Sosumar is a project between the government, investors and a large producer. See those involved discussing troubling delays.

Land Ownership (01:37)

Peasant societies lack legal land ownership, making them vulnerable to the state and companies. French colonialists seized land for industrial farming. The Malian state today claims to own the land, ignoring farmers on it.

Food Sovereignty (01:32)

A food sovereignty activist says every country should produce its own food and favors investing in peasant farmers and rejecting GM crops. Mali adopted food sovereignty as policy in 2006, but Sosuma is seen as a betrayal.

Opposition to Land Leases (04:08)

When the 2008 world food crisis hit, a Malian activist rallied people against the government's leases of land to foreign investors. People give testimony about the violence and abuses involved.

Local Support for Sosumar (02:03)

Some villages support Sosumar, while others nearby oppose. An investor talks about efforts to win local buy-in. See a meeting with village elders.

Karite Trees (01:19)

Farmers who lose their land to Sosumar have the choice of working for the project or receiving a new piece of land as compensation. Sosumar will cut down Karite trees, the nuts of which are used to make shea butter but promises to plant new ones.

Local Opposition Threatens Project (02:15)

Sosumar's funding from the African Development Bank requires them to follow guidelines on involuntary displacement. Attacks at the sugar cane site complicate the project; a meeting is held to discuss the challenge of opposition.

Security Guards (01:50)

A Sosumar official says hiring of security was necessary because opponents set fire to fields. Officials talk to a security guard, reminding him to remain within the law.

Shea Butter (01:02)

A Mali villager talks about her people's reliance on shea butter, and the necessity of trees to make it.

Change and Tradition (02:49)

An investor says change is difficult for traditional people, but asks what the point is of being in Africa if you will not bring change. A local man talks about protesting the destruction of his village.

Promoting Project (02:10)

At the World Food Prize in Iowa, an American investor in Mali and Mali's agricultural minister talk about their project and its crucial role in Africa's development.

Land Battles (02:29)

Addressing a forum in Mali, an activist denounces government's giving land to foreign investors following the 2008 food crisis. Opponents are suing the government. Land grievances have driven many African civil wars.

Pressing Government (03:01)

At a meeting, officials urge the government to make progress on Sosumar. Government officials plead that they are doing what they can.

Commitment to Africa (01:22)

Sosumar's major investor talks about his commitment to develop Mali since his father died there in a car accident.

Hopes for Development (02:03)

Mali villagers discuss the positive results of a sugar project in Zambia, and their hopes for a similar project lifting them out of poverty. Elsewhere, a man rejects outsiders' vision of happiness.

Lobbying (02:12)

An investor presses the government officials for action on Sosumar.

Western-Influenced African Elite (00:60)

The bureaucratic elite in Africa have been educated in colonial schools and seek to model Africa on the west, and are out of touch with agriculture, a man says.

Mali Coup (02:11)

Leaders of a 2012 coup address Mali, saying they are defending the constitution. Sosumar withdrew foreign employees in response. Banks withdrew lending, drying up Sosumar's funding.

Investor Pursues Nigeria (01:24)

Nigeria courts agribusiness investment. An investor talks to government officials and concludes they have greater vision than the Mali government that disappointed him.

Mali's Future (00:60)

An activist considers Mali's coup an opportunity to return to pre-2008 food sovereignty policies. He recognizes there is too much uncertainty to justify complete optimism.

Expectations After Coup (02:00)

In the wake of Mali's coup, displaced farmers expect to get their land back, one villager says. A Sosumar supporter said he expected the project to be killed after the coup, because white people do not like conflict.

Threats to the Poor and Instability (01:37)

The global agricultural poor are under assault, and we can expect them to resist. Islamic militants have overrun the North of Mali, implementing Sharia law.

Additional Resources & Credits: Land Rush: How Do You Feed the World?- Why Poverty? (00:44)

Additional Resources & Credits: Land Rush: How Do You Feed the World?- Why Poverty?

Hunger for Profit (02:43)

1 billion are going hungry, but $200 billion has been speculated on food; prices on global exchanges increase, but a man says farmers are not benefiting, while consumers suffer.

Speculators and Food Prices (01:46)

The UN blames excessive speculation for food price increases. An investor says investors and prices are responding to the fact that we are running out of food, and politicians scapegoat speculators.

Additional Resources & Credits: Hunger for Profit (00:24)

Additional Resources & Credits: Hunger for Profit

Village Removal (02:04)

Planners look at a map and talk about moving a village to create a canal. Additional resources and credits.

Food Thrown Away (02:51)

A third of all food produced ends up in the trash. Food that is the wrong color gets thrown out. Uneaten bread is useful for burning. Additional resources, sponsors and credits.

Morris' Bag (02:30)

A man engages in urban farming, growing food for his family by growing food in bags. Most of Nairobi's residents live on small lots. Additional resources and credits.

God is Rain (02:29)

Around Lake Turkana in Kenya, people find rain has often not reliably come according to traditional patterns. They have turned to the lake, but it is getting smaller.

Orator on Kenyan Droughts (02:03)

A man speaks out about the drought that is ruining his people, denouncing others for allowing it to happen.

Lake Turkana (01:36)

A Kenyan man blames the Ethiopian government blocked the Omo River, causing the reduction of Lake Turkana, and blames Western industry for climate change and the loss of rain. Additional resources and credits.

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Land Rush: How Do You Feed the World?—Why Poverty?

Part of the Series : Why Poverty?
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Seventy-five percent of Mali’s population work as farmers, but with no clear ownership rights, rich nations like Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have been scooping up prime land and using it for large-scale agribusiness production. Some Malians see this as an imperialistic land grab, but others feel that leasing deals could result in new economic opportunities for all. This program explores the pros and cons of a $600 million partnership between the government of Mali and an American agricultural developer who offers franchises to local farmers as contracted sugar cane growers. Must the Malians give up traditional land usage to survive, or can they escape poverty on their own terms? A part of the series Why Poverty? (Portions with English subtitles, 59 minutes + 18 minutes of bonus material)

Length: 77 minutes

Item#: BVL55238

ISBN: 978-0-81608-758-7

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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72nd Annual Peabody Award winner

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