A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
This paper sets out how one crop – sugar – has been driving large-scale land acquisitions and land conflicts at the expense of small-scale food producers and their families.
At least 4 million hectares of land have been acquired for sugar production in 100 large-scale land deals since 2000, although given the lack of transparency around such deals, the area is likely to be much greater. In some cases, these acquisitions have been linked to human rights violations, loss of livelihoods, and hunger for small-scale food producers and their families.
Major food and beverage companies rarely own land, but they depend on it for the crops they buy, including sugar.
These companies must urgently recognize this problem, and take steps to ensure that land rights violations and conflicts are not part of their supply chains.
To make sure that their sugar doesn’t lead to land grabs, major food and beverage companies need to:
- Know how their sugar impacts communities’ access to land, and whether they and their suppliers are respecting land rights;
- Show where the ingredients they use come from – and who grows them;
- Act by committing to zero tolerance for land grabs, throughout their supply chains and their own operations, and work with governments and others to do the same.