Speakers Tour on Land grabbing kicks off in Paris

Paris, 22.04.2013

“Our resistance against land grabbing begins today. Land speculation and the irresponsible exploitation of our soils have driven our rural communities into poverty, degraded our lands and made our children take the long highway of western immigration. As of today, we are fighting back against land grabbing, we will expose the ones responsible for its disastrous impacts, we will explain their strategies, but also our vision for a sustainable Romanian agriculture.”

Listening to these inspiring words said by Dan Cismas, Romanian peasant and co-president of Eco Ruralis, we stepped into a conference room today in Paris to present the situation of land grabbing in Romania in front of several journalists from prestigious French newspapers.

The event marked the beginning of a European tour which will take us through several European capitals; the headquarters of large land investors. The targeted countries are Austria, Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. In our effort to raise awareness about this huge issue in Romania, we will meet with journalists, groups of concerned citizens, NGOs and associations along the way, linking our struggles, developing alliances and taking a common stand against large land investments made by multi-national companies for the sake of short-term profits.

Here in Paris we highlighted that:

  • In Romania there are over 4 million small-scale farmers who own farmland of an average size of 2 hectares of arable land, and 3 hectares in total.
  • Our country is exposed to land grabbing because of its rich natural resources and cheap fertile lands, along with loose legislation made by a government which supports large land investors, cheap labour and the availability of EU subsidies.
  • Over 800,000 hectares (6% of the agricultural area has already been grabbed by large multinationals.
  • Large-scale land deals are not a form of investment that meets the needs of today’s rural population in Romania: on the contrary, land grabs are environmentally, economically and socially destructive.
  • The massive use by agro-industrial corporations of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides causes soil depletion, water pollution and the destruction of biodiversity.
  • Land grabbing accelerates the concentration of agricultural activities and undermines food sovereignty. In particular, it deprives Romanian farmers of access to land. It increases the price of land; between 2000 and 2008, prices in Romania have rocketed.
  • Land grabbing plays a key role in the vicious circle of de-peasantization and rural exodus. Against a background of existing rural exodus and the disappearance of peasant farming, large-scale agricultural investments, through their control, privatization and dispossession of natural resources, have become an active factor in further weakening the socio-economic vitality of the rural sector.

Tomorrow we are in Vienna. Ahead of the event, we have prepared an interesting case: In the Top 5 of the largest landowners in Romania, we present, on the 5th place, Count Andreas von Bardeau, through its company Bardeau Holding which owns 26,000 ha of agricultural land and several thousands of hectares of forest.