Residents of Sheffield got a shock on Saturday to find that parts of their city were being sold off. A Grab, Grab and Profit auction was in progress in the city centre, with iconic landmarks like the Crucible, the Cathedral and the University all coming under the hammer. These magnificent buildings were sold off at a bargain price, with full eviction rights included in some cases. Bemused and bewildered shoppers looked on unsure of what to make of it all.
The auction was of course a spoof, organised by the Oxfam Sheffield University and City groups, to draw attention to the plight of thousands of people in the developing world who are facing a similar injustice every day. Driven by high food prices and mandated demand for biofuels, foreign investors are buying an area of land the size of a football pitch every second. Sometimes poor people are unaware their land has been
sold until a bulldozer turns up at their door.
Two thirds of land deals by foreign investors are in countries with a serious hunger problem but most of these investors export the food they grow on the land - and many of these investors are based in the UK. People lose their homes, their livelihoods and their ability to feed themselves overnight.
This year the G8, the world leaders of the biggest economies, meet in the UK. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and International Development Secretary Justine Greening all have an opportunity to stop this practice of land grabbing and end a major cause of hunger. As Nick Clegg says this is "an important issue which is having a massive effect on food security in developing countries"
With the G8 just 4 weeks away, Oxfam, as part of the IF campaign, is calling on Justine Greening to take action on land rights to tackle hunger at the Trade, Tax and Transparency summit on the 15 June by announcing a new Land Transparency Initiative. This initiative would ensure transparency in land deals and
empower some of the world's poorest people to have a say in deals that affect them and their families. We need to send world leaders a message that this practise of land grabbing has to stop.
As Sheffield resident Mrs Anne Smith said "We need to start thinking about enough food for everyone and not funding biofuels. Why aren't we sharing food when there is enough for everyone?"
There are about a billion people who go hungry in the world today. We could potentially feed all of them if we stop poor farmers being forced off their land and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.
Please join IF on 8th June 2013: http://enoughfoodif.org/g8/london