Grace from Uganda has been campaigning with ActionAid in Denmark against harmful biofuels that take away food from the poor and vulnerable. Read his reflections on ignorance in the global village.
By Grace Tuusubira
The Tour de Future campaign on land grabbing and biofuels has opened up my mind to what has been happing around my country and other parts of Africa. Before this campaign I used to see land being grabbed which even our family’s was one among. When I got to know about this campaign, I opened up reading around the same things and my practical participation in the campaign here in Denmark has not left me the same. In the campaign, I with my fellow Activista members have solicited for solidarity from the Danish youth and the general population in 15 cities of Denmark through awareness creation and sharing life experience. A good number of Danes have joined us in the quest of arguing the policy makers to address the problem of increased demand for fuel using other alternatives than food (biofuels).
While it is true that land investment has great potential to help people work themselves out of poverty, the current rush for land is leaving people worse off. Where land previously used for food crop farming is replaced with non-food crops or commodity crops like oil palms and Jatropha a plant whose seed produces a fluid that is used to produce fuel, it tells me that cars are more important to feed with fuel than human beings.
Can anyone tell me where the love for humanity is?
Growing demands for food, competing with the biofuels demands, put pressure on the world’s agricultural lands. This consequently pushes up the prices of land and food too. After large pieces of land in poorer countries have been grabbed and now are in the hands of international companies who wish to make profits at the cost of people’s lives, the results from gazing into the future indicate that sooner or later food wars will be ushered in, if policy makers do not rethink around this policy.
In the recent weeks I have shared with my fellow Activista members from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in the Tour de Future campaign, and my eyes have been opened. Much food-land has been cleared and made unavailable for food production because of biofuels. This means that even neighboring countries can’t run to each other for food in times of scarcity which has been the case in the recent past.
Now, where shall we run for food?
I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder as I'm writing about this subject. Why are the companies getting so greedy? Is money all they care for? Selfishness has made us following the wrong direction and decisions affecting thousands of people. Ooh, whatever happened to the values of humanity? Whatever happened to the fairness and equality?
Instead of ending hunger we are inviting it to stay!
In my dialogues with the Danish youths about what they make out of a cob of corn, I came to realize that they do not view it as food but rather, popcorns that can be enjoyed on some occasions for fun having, movie watching and the alike. This is very different from where I come from, Uganda. The number one thing that we see out of a corncob is a meal locally known as Kawunga (In Kenya, Ugali) which can hardly miss on the table, and it will not take much intelligence for a 3 year old African to tell you that from the corn we get food.
Now, first generation biofuels tend to make me think that probably the policy was blind on the knowledge that what seems as fuel is actually food. But again my mind fails to perceive the blindness about that obvious fact. How is it even possible in the global village where a lot of shared learning is being done on different life lines?
Yes, we all need the fuel to move and get things done but not at the expense of life, and so we should focus on biofuel from the second generation and other sources that nature will accord to us, and
Since human poverty and environmental degradation are interrelated, we pledge ourselves to improve the quality of life for all people. Our goal should be a sustainable development of resources while meeting human needs, and biofuels means food to people in other parts of the planet.