So we’ve this development problem, see?
We need to get African agriculture up to speed. Current yields are pitiful and by and large it’s horribly inefficient peasant farming.
That needs to change, just as our own agriculture changed over the past two centuries. Quite apart from anything else, the introduction of efficient agriculture will mean less pressure on the forests and wild lands.
And we’ve, in theory, at least two ways to do this. We can send all sorts of lovely, no, really, they mean well which is the important point, arts and sociology graduates through Oxfam, War on Want, WaterAid and the like, kit them out with lovely expat salaries, expense accounts and Toyota Land Cruisers, and despite the fact that they know fuck all about farming or the land, they can tell everyone what to do.
Or, we can, well:
White South African farmers are now being courted by the north, by countries who believe their agricultural expertise can kickstart an agrarian revolution across the continent. They are being offered millions of hectares of allegedly virgin rainforest and bush, as well as land already farmed by smallholders or used as pastures by herders.
In the biggest deal to date, Congo-Brazzaville has offered South Africa farmers long leases on up to 10m hectares of land, an area that includes abandoned state farms and bush in the remote south-west of the country. The first contracts, which put 88,000 hectares in the hands of 70 farmers, were signed at a ceremony in the country last month.
Meanwhile, in Mozambique, some 800 South African farmers have acquired a million hectares in the southern province of Gaza, thanks to an arrangement set up by sugar farmer Charl Senekal, an associate of the South African president, Jacob Zuma. This deal will be celebrated at a ceremony in Pretoria next month.
There have been sporadic moves north by white South African farmers since the end of apartheid. But the current migration is more organised, says Ruth Hall of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. “South Africa is exporting [not just] its farmers, but also its value chains, to the rest of the continent,” she told a meeting on international land grabs in Brighton last week.
We could send people who actually do know about farming in Africa, people who have been there and done it, and get them to do actual farming instead of lolling about in expensive restaurants.
It’s a tough choice really, isn’t it?
Which is likely to be more effective? Which will increase yields? Which option will actually solve the problem we wish to solve?
Yup, you guessed it, the one that everyone’s going to start screaming mustn’t happen, you got it right.
For of course our South African farmers, the ones who actually know what they’re doing and who could and would solve the problem, they’re motivated by profit. The middle class ignorants we export from Europe are motivated by cuddly, kittens with balls of wool, style thoughts.
And as we all know, it’s the thought that counts, not the outcome, isn’t it darlings?
Plus, of course, what would happen if we actually solved this problem? Brought African farming up to speed, fed the continent, made some exports so there’s money rolling in, protected the rain forests as we don’t need to raze the trees so that peasants can scrape in the dirt with sticks?
There’d be no more Land Cruisers, no more reason to run campaigns tugging on our heart strings and, horror of horrors, those arts and sociology graduates would stay home, fucking up our own lives.
Nah, the Africans can starve. After all, we don’t want them all learning Afrikaans, do we?