Opponents of the military coup have organised mass protests across Egypt condemning the deterioration of living conditions, price hikes and the ongoing electricity crisis. They are also calling for the prosecution of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for “crimes against humanity”.
The protests came in response to a call by the Anti-Coup Alliance, which called for a “new revolutionary week” starting Friday under the slogan, “The oath of the revolution and the vow of the martyr”.
In the affluent Maadi neighborhood in Cairo, protesters denounced lifting subsidies and the increase in fuel prices. They also chanted for the release of all political prisoners and putting an end to torture in prisons.
In Hilwan, the alliance organised a morning protest against military rule and worsening living conditions. They vowed to continue protests until the leader of the coup is prosecuted.
In Baltim town in Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate, protesters condemned politicised trials and price hikes. In Desouk, protesters waved pictures of Mohamed Morsi and Rabaa signs and chanted against the deteriorating living conditions and poor services, especially electricity.
The Ukrainian conflict was just a trigger for the sanctions, which demonstrated the failure of all previous efforts to set up healthy relations between Russia and the West, Russian tycoon and head of Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, told RT in Sochi.
“I think the sanctions have nothing to do with Ukraine. Ukraine was just a reason. [The sanctions] were a failure of any attempt which was taken in the past to build normal relations between Europe and Russia – from both sides,” Deripaska told RT at the Investment Forum in Sochi.
Oleg Deripaska said the West started pressing Russia before the first sanctions were imposed – just ahead of the Sochi Olympics.
“We should give a lot of credit to Sochi, [as it showed] a different world, [despite] whatever appeared in the Western press,” he said.
Asked if people across the globe are more anti-Russia than ever, Deripaska answered that “it’s not people, it’s [about] various lobbying groups and various interests.”
“You remember all the complaints before the Olympics. They’ve been intentionally stopping any efforts from the Russian side to be normal, to look normal in the West. My view is we should go down as deep as possible, as quick as possible, and then touch the bottom and go up, and think what’s actually common between us, if there is any chance to have this Portugal-Vladivostok trade zone and opportunities to live together.”
President Vladimir Putin has said that sanctions against Russia directly violate World Trade Organization (WTO) principles, and that Russia will continue to defend its economy with protective measures.
The sanctions violate the main principles of equal access for all WTO members to economic activity and access to goods and services in the market, Putin said at a meeting with advisers in the Kremlin on Thursday.
“The limitations introduced against our country are nothing but a violation by some of our partners of the basic principles of the WTO,” the President said, adding that sanctions “undermine free enterprise competition.”
On September 12, the US and EU expanded sanctions against Russia aimed at hurting Russia’s main industry – oil. The US and EU have led sanctions against Russia, along with Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and others over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the Ukraine conflict.
The best way for Russia to counter these unfair advantages is to develop its domestic market, the President said.
“In response, we took protective measures, and I would like to stress that they are protective; they are not the result of our desire to punish any of our partners or influence their decision in any way.”
Russia introduced protective measures over food supplies on August 7 in response to Western sanctions. The Kremlin and White House sanctions tit-for-tat has been escalating since March, when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia.
The food ban is due to only last a year, but at today’s meeting the President said that Russia needs to focus on increasing its market competitiveness over the next eighteen months to two years.
One of Russia’s main competitive advantages is its huge domestic market, and it should be filled with more Russian-made products, Putin said.
The President said that Russia’s decision to join the WTO in 2012 was a difficult transition for the country, but that it raised economic standards.
At the meeting President Putin laid out a list of economic priorities for the Russian state. At the top are developing the infrastructure, boosting lending, continuing to develop the agricultural and technology sectors, and increasing overall competition.
Russia joined the WTO in 2012 after nearly two decades of back and forth negotiations on the conditions for entry.
Russia’s Gazprom Bank and oil producer Gazprom Neft will fall under new sanctions approved by the European Union on Friday, Reuters cited an EU diplomat as saying. The sanctions reportedly include a new ban on raising capital in the 28-nation bloc.
The sanctions were agreed against Russia for its alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis, the diplomatic source said.
According to The Financial Times, which managed to obtain a document outlining the sanctions, all Russian state-controlled companies with assets of more than one trillion rubles (US$27 billion) that receive more than half their revenue from “the sale or transportation of crude oil or petroleum products” will be hit by the ban.
In addition to Gazprom Neft, the oil subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Russia’s largest oil group – Rosneft and Transneft pipeline company – would be potentially blacklisted. However, the sanctions will not apply to privately owned Russian oil groups such as Lukoil and Surgutneftegas, the Times said.
The sanctions will also include an expansion of the EU travel ban list against certain individuals, as well as asset freezes, credit restrictions against Russian companies, and export bans on dual use goods, the EU diplomat told the agency.
Chiefs of Russian companies will be added to the list, along with oligarchs and local authorities of Donbass and Crimea.
Moscow has already promised it will respond to the new round of sanctions if they are approved and imposed, according to a press release issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday
“Instead of feverishly looking for ways of hitting harder the economies of its member-states and Russia, the EU would do better to start supporting the economic revival of the Donbass region and restoring normal life there,” the press release reads.
The EU’s implementation of the new sanctions was delayed until Monday, Itar-Tass quoted an EU source as saying. Although the sanctions are ready, “some touch up work will be completed during the weekend.”
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso confirmed that the new sanctions will be revealed on Monday.
US President Barack Obama said on Friday that Washington and the European Union were prepared to impose sanctions against Russia if the crisis in Ukraine continues to escalate following the signing of a ceasefire agreement.
Obama said the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine – agreed upon only hours earlier – was a result of “both the sanctions that have already been applied and the threat of further sanctions, which are having a real impact on the Russian economy and have isolated Russia in a way we have not seen in a very long time.”
Kiev officials and representatives of the two self-proclaimed republics in southeastern Ukraine agreed to a ceasefire after the contact group met behind closed doors in Belarus.
The European Union is looking at introducing more economic sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in Ukrainian conflict, targeting the country’s oil and defense industries with investment bans, according to a new report.
EU diplomats have started drawing up new economic sanctions in Brussels, indicating that they could be passed as soon as Friday, The Telegraph reported, citing a three-page document.
The confidential document was reportedly handed over to ambassadors from several European countries this week.
It calls to “prohibit debt financing (through bonds, equities and syndicated loans) to defense companies and to all companies whose main activity is the exploration, production and transportation of oil and oil products and in which the Russian state is the majority shareholder.”
The new wave of sanctions could potentially ban state-controlled Russian oil and defense companies from raising funds in European capital markets, cutting off foreign investment.
“This extension would significantly increase the burden placed on the Russian state to finance its companies,” the document suggests.
The sanctions would affect Rosneft – Russia’s largest oil producer – in turn impacting British energy company BP, which has a 20 percent stake in the company.
Moreover, Russia’s oil prospectors could be blocked off from accessing exploration, production and refinery services.
“Measures could be extended… to provision of future associated services (such as seismic campaign-related services, drilling, well testing, logging and completion services, supply of floating vessels etc) for deep water, oil exploration and production, Arctic oil exploration and production or shale oil projects in Russia,” said the paper.
That may even include “prohibiting the provision of new additional technologies, for instance refining technologies needed to upgrade crude oil to EURO 4 standards.”
The banking sector will also be targeted further, making borrowing money from the EU even more difficult for Russian state-owned companies.
“Possible measures [include] prohibiting EU persons from participating in syndicated loans to major Russian State owned banks and other entities with a view to further restraining access to capital and closing a possible gap in the current regulation,” said the EU document. “[Also] lowering the maturity beyond which certain debt instruments are restricted bringing it form the current 90 days to 30 days.”
READ MORE: France says it cannot deliver Mistral warship to Russia over Ukraine
Some of the measures not being considered at this time, but reportedly being held in reserve, include bans on the purchase of newly issued Russian government bonds and a boycott of non-industrial diamonds.
Aside from the economic measures, other forms of sanctions are also being considered.
“Beside economic measures, thought could be given to taking coordinated action within the G7 and beyond to recommend suspension of Russian participation in high profile international cultural, economic or sports events (Formula One races, UEFA football competitions, 2018 World Cup etc),” according to the document.
AFP reported, citing a source, that the World Cup boycott idea is being considered as a “possibility for later on, not now.”
On Wednesday the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, said there was no chance of the 2018 World Cup being taken away from Russia.
“We are not placing any questions over the World Cup in Russia,” the head of world football’s governing body said at an event near Kitzbuehel, Austria, according to the DPA news agency. “We are in a situation in which we have expressed our trust to the organizers of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.”
“[A boycott] has never achieved anything,” Blatter stressed.
Meanwhile, President Putin has outlined a seven-point plan to stabilize the situation in the crisis-torn region of eastern Ukraine.
Putin also expressed hope that final agreements between Kiev and the militia in southeastern Ukraine could be reached and secured at the coming meeting of the so-called contact group on September 5.
The military conflict has killed 2,593 people since mid-April and displaced over a million Ukrainians, most of whom sought refuge in Russia.
So far, attempts at temporary ceasefires between Kiev and self-defense forces in the past months have failed to improve the situation in southeastern Ukraine. The fighting has continued, with both sides blaming each other for breaking the truce.
British officials have admitted that nearly two million households are set to miss out on a government energy rebate and millions of more will see delays up to a year before being refunded.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said Sunday that supplier would start giving the rebate from mid-October, after government officials decided to refund consumers money paid to a Warm Home Discount Scheme.
According to the DECC, an estimated 678,000 British households would not be refunded as their accounts were considered “in transit,” meaning costumers who pay by direct debit and who are in the process of switching supplier or moving house.
Another estimated 1.2 million homes using prepayment meters would not be refunded as they would not be able to complete necessary steps to receive vouchers by mail.
The department said electricity suppliers had indicated that there would be “delivery barriers,” which would prevent all eligible customers to receive the rebate.
In addition, a further 15 million customers who pay by direct debit would only receive the refund once their supplier reviews their accounts, which could be conducted just once a year.
The move to refund came after the government decided to cover payments to the discount scheme through taxation. Earlier consumers paid an average of 12 pounds annually on their energy bills to the scheme. The discount program was launched in 2011.
This comes as British people are experiencing a large rise in energy prices in recent years. A report published in June revealed that the prices of domestic energy in the UK rose by 45 percent between 2008 and 2014.
Meanwhile, Britain’s biggest six power firms – Centrica, SSE, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, E.ON, RWE npower – had seen their profits rise from £233 million in 2009 to more than £1 billion by 2012, according to energy regulator Ofgem.
US oil giant ExxonMobil and Russia’s Rosneft will continue joint exploitation of the Russian Arctic despite Western sanctions, the American company said as the two giants launched exploration drilling in the Kara Sea.
“Our cooperation is a long-term one. We see great benefits here and are ready to continue working here with your agreement,” Glenn Waller, ExxonMobil’s lead manager in Russia, told President Vladimir Putin during a videoconference call.
The Russian leader hailed the exploration project as an example of mutually beneficial cooperation that strengthens global energy security.
Rosneft head Igor Sechin said the launch of the Universitetskaya-1 well drill is one of the most important events for the company this year.
“We hope that this work will discover a new oil reserve here in the Kara Sea. The development of the Arctic shelf would have a big and positive effect for the Russian economy,” he said.
Optimistic company forecasts put oil reserves in the Kara Sea as high as 13 billion tons, more than in the Gulf of Mexico, or the whole of Saudi Arabia.
The drilling is being done by the West Alpha oilrig, built by Norway’s North Atlantic Drilling. It has a deadweight of 30,700 tons and can drill wells in the shelf up to 7 km deep.
The rig was equipped with an advanced iceberg warning system, which tracks potentially dangerous icebergs, giving enough time for either support ships to tow them away, or for the rig itself to seal off the well and evacuate to safety.
Rosneft is one of the Russian companies targeted by Western nations, imposed to punish Moscow for its stance over the Ukrainian crisis. Russia’s retaliation so far has been to ban the import of foodstuffs from the countries that approved anti-Russian sanctions.
Bulgarian officials say the construction of the Russian-led South Stream gas pipeline does not breach EU legislation. The European Commission is concerned the agreement between Russia and Bulgaria violates EU competition law.
The Bulgarian government stood by its position on the legality of the pipeline in a Wednesday statement, ITAR-TASS reports. The agreement on South Stream construction signed in 2008 did not provide any exclusive rights, concessions, or tendering for the South Stream Bulgaria Company which is the owner of the pipeline, and therefore it does not violate EU law, it said.
“With its position the government presents arguments and motives in support of the decisions the Bulgarian nation has taken and which were the subject of concern at the EU Commission,” Reuters quotes the official statement.
Bulgaria will put these arguments at the Brussels summit on Friday, but the decision of the commission whether to accept or reject them may end up in full infringement proceedings and possible fines against Sofia, Reuters says.
According to Gunther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Energy, the construction process should be suspended until, “it completely corresponds to the requirements of the European Union.”
On Tuesday Austria, another strong defender of the pipeline, signed a deal to construct a South Stream arm on its territory, thus showing its firm commitment.
The 2,446 km South Stream pipeline will stretch across southern and central Europe via the Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine and reducing the country’s importance as a gas transit route. 64 billion cubic meters of gas will be transported annually.
Gazprom has said the project, estimated to cost $45 billion, can be completed without any funding from international partners.
Bulgaria’s prime minister, Plamen Oresharski, has ordered a halt to work on Russia’s South Stream pipeline, on the recommendation of the EU. The decision was announced after his talks with US senators.
“At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we’ve suspended the current works, I ordered it,” Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. “Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels.”
McCain, commenting on the situation, said that “Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues,” adding that in the current situation they would want “less Russian involvement” in the project.
Russia’s Energy Ministry said it had not yet received any official notification from Bulgaria on work on the project being suspended.
Earlier this week, EU authorities ordered Bulgaria to suspend construction on its link of the pipeline, which is planned to transport Russian natural gas through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and onward to western Europe. Brussels wants the project frozen, pending a decision on whether it violates the EU competition regulations on a single energy market. It believes South Stream does not comply with the rules prohibiting energy producers from also controlling pipeline access.
The EU is also asking for an investigation into how contracts were awarded for work on the pipeline in Bulgaria. Brussels sent the Bulgarian government a letter of formal notice asking for information, to which Sofia had one month to reply.
Russia’s energy giant Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline requires European approvals as its route would pass through the territory of several EU countries.
In Bulgaria, the ruling Socialists support the South Stream project, while Movement for Rights and Freedom leader Lyutvi Mestan told parliament on June 5 that Bulgaria should defend its strategic interests “in cooperation, not in confrontation” with Europe.
Earlier Serbia has said it has no plans to delay the start of construction of its leg of the South Stream pipeline, scheduled for July. Serbian Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic said that the position was not decisive: “I believe the European Commission and member states will find a solution because this is a European project in the best interests of energy security.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also said June 5 that the pipeline should be built, as there was no alternative to the project.
As we start hurricane season today, we note the unprecedented 3142 day drought of major hurricane landfalls, shattering a record that goes back to the year 1900.
Despite clear evidence to the contrary, president Obama is now warning us that “storms like Hurricane Sandy will become more frequent as climate change intensifies.” It’s merely the latest in the administration’s seemingly endless stream of headline-grabbing scare stories, designed to justify the job-killing, economy-strangling, family-bashing rules for vehicles, power plants, cement kilns, refineries, factories, farms, shopping malls and countless other facilities that are or soon will be regulated by Environmental Protection Agency fiat. We need to keep one vitally important fact in mind.
Every one of these “looming calamities” is based on assumptions, assertions and computer models that represent the real world about as well as the special-effects T-rexes and raptors do in Jurassic Park. The data on hurricanes says otherwise:
Climate modelers and disaster proponents remind me of the four guys who were marooned on an island, after their plane went down. The engineer began drawing plans for a boat; the lumberjack cut trees to build it; the pilot plotted a course to the nearest known civilization. But the economist just sat there. The exasperated workers asked him why he wasn’t helping.
“I don’t see the problem,” he replied. “Why can’t we just assume we have a boat, get on it and leave?”
In the case of climate change, those making the assumptions demand that we act immediately to avert planetary crises based solely on their computer model predictions. It’s like demanding that governments enact laws to safeguard us from velociraptors, after Jurassic Park scientists found that dinosaur DNA could be extracted from fossilized mosquitoes … and brought the carnivores back to special-effects life.
Climate models help improve our conceptual understandings of climate systems and the forces that drive climate change. However, they are terrible at predicting Earth’s temperature and other components of its climate. They should never be used to set or justify policies, laws and regulations – such as what the Environmental Protection Agency is about to impose on CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Even our best climate scientists still have only a limited grasp of Earth’s highly complex and chaotic climate systems, and the many interrelated solar, cosmic, oceanic, atmospheric, terrestrial and other forces that control climate and weather. Even the best models are only as good as that understanding.
Worse, the models and the science behind them have been horribly politicized. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was ostensibly organized in 1988 to examine possible human influences on Earth’s climate. In reality, Swedish meteorologist Bert Bolin and environmental activist groups wanted to use global warming to drive an anti-hydrocarbon, limited-growth agenda. That meant they somehow had to find a human influence on the climate – even if the best they could come up with was “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” [emphasis added]
“Discernible” (ie, detectable) soon metamorphosed into “dominant,” which quickly morphed into the absurd notion that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have now replaced natural forces and become the only factors influencing climate change. They are certainly the only factors that climate activists and alarmists want to talk about, while they attempt to silence debate, criticism and skepticism. They use the models to generate scary “scenarios” that are presented as actual predictions of future calamities.
They predict, project or forecast that heat waves will intensify, droughts and floods will be stronger and more frequent, hurricanes will be more frequent and violent, sea levels will rise four feet by 2100 [versus eight inches since 1880], forest fires will worsen, and countless animal species will disappear. Unlikely.
Natural forces obviously caused the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age and the Pleistocene Ice Ages. (A slab of limestone that I dug up has numerous striations – scratches – left by the last mile-thick glacier that covered what is now my home town in Wisconsin.) After long denying it, the IPCC finally acknowledged that the LIA did occur, and that it was a worldwide agricultural and human disaster.
However, the models and computer algorithms the IPCC and EPA rely on still do not include the proper magnitude of solar cycles and other powerful natural forces that influence climate changes. They assume “positive feedbacks” from GHGs that trap heat, but understate the reflective and thus cooling effects of clouds. They display a global warming bias throughout – bolstered by temperature data contaminated by “urban heat island” effects, due to measuring stations being located too close to human heat sources. They assume Earth’s climate is now controlled almost entirely by rising human CO2/GHG emissions.
It’s no wonder the models, modelers and alarmists totally failed to predict the nearly-18-year absence of global warming – or that the modeled predictions diverge further from actual temperature measurements with every passing year. It’s no wonder modelers cannot tell us which aspects of global warming, global cooling, climate change and “climate disruption” are due to humans, and which are the result of natural forces. It’s hardly surprising that they cannot replicate (“hindcast”) the global temperature record from 1950 to 1995, without “fudging” their data and computer codes– or that they are wrong almost every time.
In 2000, Britain’s Met Office said cold winters would be a thing of the past, and “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” The 2010 and 2012 winters were the coldest and snowiest in centuries. In 2013, Met Office scholars said the coming winter would be extremely dry; the forecast left towns, families and government agencies totally unprepared for the immense rains and floods that followed.
In 2007, Australia’s climate commissioner predicted Brisbane and other cities would never again have sufficient rain to fill their reservoirs. The forecast ignored previous drought and flood cycles, and was demolished by record rains in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Forecasts of Arctic and Antarctic meltdowns have ignored the long history of warmer and colder cycles, and ice buildups and breakups.
The Bonneville Power Administration said manmade warming will cause Columbia River Basin snowpack to melt faster, future precipitation to fall as rain, reservoirs to be overwhelmed – and yet water levels will be well below normal year round. President Obama insists that global temperatures will soar, wildfires will be more frequent and devastating, floods and droughts will be more frequent and disastrous, rising seas will inundate coastal cities as Arctic and Antarctic ice shelves melt and disintegrate, and 97% of scientists agree. Every claim is based on models or bald-faced assertions unsupported by evidence.
And still the IPCC says it has “very high confidence” (the highest level it assigns) to the supposed agreement between computer model forecasts and actual observations. The greater the divergence from reality, the higher its “confidence” climbs. Meanwhile, climate researchers and modelers from Nebraska, Penn State, Great Britain and other “learned institutions” continue to focus on alleged human influences on Earth’s climate. They know they will likely lose their government, foundation and other funding – and will certainly be harassed and vilified by EPA, environmentalists, politicians, and their ideological and pedagogical peers – if they examine natural forces too closely.
Thus they input erroneous data, simplistic assumptions, personal biases, and political and financial calculations, letting models spew out specious scenarios and phony forecasts: garbage in, garbage out.
The modelers owe it to humanity to get it right – so that we can predict, prepare for, mitigate and adapt to whatever future climate conditions nature (or humans) might throw at us. They cannot possibly do that without first understanding, inputting and modeling natural factors along with human influences.
Above all, these supposed modeling experts and climate scientists need to terminate their biases and their evangelism of political agendas that seek to slash fossil fuel use, “transform” our energy and economic systems, redistribute wealth [upward], reduce our standards of living, and “permit” African and other impoverished nations to enter the modern era only in a “sustainable manner,” as defined by callous elitists.
The climate catastrophe camp’s focus on CO2 is based on the fact that it is a byproduct of detested hydrocarbon use. But this trace gas (a mere 0.04% of Earth’s atmosphere) makes life on our planet possible. More carbon dioxide means crops, forests and grasslands grow faster and better. CO2’s role in climate change is speculative – and contradicted by real-world measurements, observations and history.
Computer models, scenarios and predictions of planetary Armageddon are little more than faulty, corrupt, even fraudulent pseudo-science. They have consistently forecast what has not happened on Planet Earth, and failed to forecast what did happen.
They must no longer be allowed to justify EPA’s job-killing, economy-strangling, family-bashing rules for vehicles, power plants, cement kilns, refineries, factories, farms, shopping malls and countless other facilities that are or soon will be regulated by agency fiat.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.
Governments and international agencies frequently boast that small farmers control the largest share of the world’s agricultural land. When the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization inaugurated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, he sang the praises of family farmers but didn’t once mention the need for land reform. Instead, he announced that family farms already manage most of the world’s farmland – a whopping 70%, according to his team.
But a new review of the data carried out by GRAIN reveals that the opposite is true. Small farms, which produce most of the world’s food, are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland – or less than one fifth if you leave out China and India.
“We are fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of the rich and powerful,” said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN. “The overwhelming majority of farming families today have less than two hectares to cultivate and that share is shrinking. If we do nothing to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.”
Marina Dos Santos of the Coordination of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST), and of La Via Campesina, states: “Today, the peasantry is criminalised, taken to court and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. Currently, there are an alarming numbers of deaths that go unpunished. States have created legal concepts such as terrorism and sabotage to intimidate our struggle. Every day we are exposed to systematic expulsion from our land. This affects not only peasants fighting to stay on the land, but also many other small farmers and indigenous peoples who are the target of greedy foreign interests. We want the land in order to live and to produce, as these are our basic rights against land grabbing corporations who seek only speculation and profit.”
“People need to understand that if the current processes of land concentration continue, then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on,” said GRAIN’s Camila Montecinos. “The concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.”
GRAIN’s report also provides new data that show that small farmers still provide most of the world’s food, and that they are often much more productive than large corporate farms. If all of Kenya’s farms matched the output of its small farms, the nation’s agricultural productivity would double. In Central America, it would nearly triple. Women are the major food producers, but their role remains unrecorded and marginalised.
The international agencies keep on reminding us that we need to produce more food to feed the growing population. But how much more food could be produced almost immediately if small farmers had access to more land and could work in a supportive policy environment, rather than under the siege conditions they are facing today?
“The vast majority of farms in Zimbabwe belong to small holders and their average farmsize has increased as a result of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. Small farmers in the country now produce over 90% of diverse agricultural food crops, while they only provided 60-70% of the national food before land redistribution. More women own land in their own right, which is key to food sovereignty everywhere,” said Elizabeth Mpofu, General coordinator of La Via Campesina.
We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems. Something peasant organisations and landless people’s movements have long been fighting for.
GRAIN’s new report, Hungry for land: small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland provides an in depth review of the data on farm structures and food production worldwide and comes to the following 6 central conclusions:
1. The vast majority of farms in the world today are small and getting smaller
Due to a myriad of forces, average farm sizes have shrunk dramatically over the past decades, particularly in Asia and Africa.
2. Small farms are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland
Despite what the UN and others report, small farms occupy less than 25% of the world’s farmland today – just 17%, if we exclude India and China.
3. We’re fast losing farms and farmers in many places, while big farms are getting bigger
One major reason why small farms are disappearing is the rapid growth of monoculture plantations. In the last 50 years, 140 million hectares – well more than all the farmland in China – have been taken over for soybean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane alone.
4. Small farmers continue to be the major food producers in the world
By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families – not commodities or export crops. GRAIN compiled staggering statistics that show how, even with so little land, small farms produce the bulk of many countries’ food supply.
5. Small farms are technically more productive than big farms
Industrial farms have enormous power, clout and resources, but small farms almost everywhere outperform big farms in terms of productivity. If all of Kenya’s farms matched the output of its small farms, the nation’s agricultural productivity would double. In Central America, it would nearly triple. If Russia’s big farms were as productive as its small ones, output would increase by a factor of six.
6. The majority of small farmers are women, yet their contributions are unrecognised and marginalised
Women’s immense contribution to farming and food production is not captured in official statistics and they are discriminated against when it comes to controlling land in most countries.
The report is accompanied by illustrative maps and a fully-referenced dataset. Available for download at: http://www.grain.org/e/4929.
More on the farmers’ struggle for land: “Land is life! La Via Campesina and the Struggle for Land” at: http://viacampesina.org/downloads/pdf/en/EN-notebook5.pdf.
Facts that don’t agree with claims
“One of the panel’s most striking new conclusions is that rising temperatures are already depressing crop yields, including those of corn and wheat.”
… is in this LA Times story by babout the latest IPCC report which has so much gloom and doom in it, one of the lead authors, Dr. Richard Tol, asked his name to be taken off of it for that very reason.
Problem is, the agricultural data doesn’t match the LATimes/IPCC claim, see for yourself:
Source: USDA data at http://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/ plotted by Dr. Roy Spencer.
Not only is the LATimes/IPCC claim about agriculture false for the world, but also the USA:
In fact, U.S. Corn Yields Have Increased Six Times Since the 1930s and Are Estimated to Double By 2030 according to Perry.
Maybe he’s just too lazy to check facts like this? Or, is it belief mixed with incompetence?