Commodities

Soy and Sugar Cane Fuel Native Land Conflicts in Brazil

The threat of mass suicide by native Guaraní-Kaiowá people in southwest Brazil brought to light a new formula for worsening conflicts over indigenous territory: the expansion of the cultivation of soy beans and sugar cane, two top export crops.

Local residents opposed to the Conga gold mine hold a vigil at one of the lakes that the project would affect in the highlands of Cajamarca.  Credit: Courtesy of the La República newspaper

PERU: Protest Against Mine Continues Despite State of Emergency

Local residents and authorities in the northern Peruvian region of Cajamarca say they will continue to protest the Conga gold mine, despite the state of emergency declared by President Ollanta Humala.

Pipelines that transport grains from the Suape port. In the background, Brazil

SOUTH AMERICA: To Beijing with Love

South America has managed to withstand the knock-on effects of recession in the EU and U.S. thanks to the protection offered by the soaring Asian demand for commodities. But many things could change in the medium term.

Panguna mine's copper and gold await political settlement before extraction can resume.  Credit: C.E. Wilson/IPS

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Women Call the Shots on Mega Copper Mine

Whether the world’s largest open-cut mine on this island territory of Papua New Guinea (PNG) will resume copper and gold production, after being mothballed for 22 years, will depend on how satisfied matrilineal landowners are with the proposals.

Traffic jam of trucks at Jaciara, 140 km from Cuiabá, caused by repairs to BR-364 road.  Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

BRAZIL: Soy Boom Drives Westward Expansion of Railroads

Despite challenges like high interest rates and high household electricity tariffs, the Brazilian economy has been growing at the highest rates seen in decades. Another problem that, although it has not stood in the way of growth, must be overcome is the costly use of roads for transporting farm products – an issue that is being addressed by the expansion of railway networks.

CENTRAL AMERICA: Fair Trade Taking Root

"We started out with 10 organisations and now we have 22 cooperatives with more than 19,000 members who grow and export crops with an environmental, social and economic focus," says an enthusiastic Marvin López, with the Guatemalan network of small-scale fair trade farmers (CGCJ).

Rob Davies: South Africa's huge trade imbalance with the rest of Africa cannot be allowed to go on forever. Credit: South African Department of Trade and Industry

Q&A: “Africa Can Provide More Than Minerals in South-South Trade”

South-South co-operation is firmly on Africa’s agenda. Leading the way is South Africa, which has recently joined up with Brazil, Russia, India and China’s BRIC formation to form a new global grouping of emerging markets, known as BRICS.

Amidst ‘Dire’ Humanitarian Crisis, U.S. Urges Ceasefire in South Kordofan

As the date for South Sudan’s long anticipated Jul. 9 secession inches closer, on-going violence in the Northern state of South Kordofan threatens to destroy the country’s hopes for peace.

Jan Rielaender: High fuel and mineral commodity prices have strongly influenced economic growth in many of the fastest growing African economies.  Credit: OECD

AFRICA: Poor Excluded From Benefits of High Economic Growth

The high economic growth enjoyed by many African states during the 2000s have not led to poverty elimination. This is because the growth did not happen in the sectors where poor people work, as in agriculture, or in the rural areas where poor people live, or simply did not involve labour provided by poor people.

OP-ED: Global CO2 Emissions Reach a New Record High

The alarm bells this time are not being rung by climate scientists or by environmental activists. They are being rung by none other than the International Energy Agency (IEA) - the institution established in the 1970s to defend the interests of Western oil consuming nations.

José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo, murdered Tuesday May 24 in Pará.  Credit: CNS Bélem

A Dark Day for Brazil’s Amazon Jungle

The same day that the lower house of the Brazilian Congress approved a reform of the forestry code that would make it easier to clear land in the Amazon jungle for agriculture, a husband and wife team of activists who spent years fighting illegal deforestation in the rainforest were murdered.

TWN's Sanya Reid Smith: The Istanbul LDC conference sent out a message that LDCs should not be pressured or advised to liberalise imports.  Credit:

TRADE: Istanbul Conference “a Setback” for Poor Countries

Some of the decisions taken on trade in the Istanbul Plan of Action are likely to disadvantage poor countries while others are so vague as to be meaningless, says Abdoulaye Sanoko, counsellor at the mission of Mali to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva.

G20: Hungry for Opportunities

Food shortages may be causing hunger in the developing world, but the large Latin American agricultural countries that belong to the Group of 20 (G20) see the situation as an opportunity to exploit.

It is predicted that, by 2020, up to 250 million people in Africa will experience increased water stress and many will be driven to cities. Credit: Christian Aid

Pension Fund Investors May be to Blame for Escalating Food Prices

Long-term investors like pension funds are probably the reason why the prices of commodities, including crops, have been driven to a higher level than in 2008 when food riots erupted in 30 countries, according to the British nongovernmental organisation Christian Aid.

López Peña sugar mill in the town of Baguanos, Holguín, Cuba.  Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A Sugar Boost for the Cuban Economy

Cuba hopes to revive its sugar industry as part of the recently announced economic changes and take advantage of good international prices for what was once the Caribbean island’s main export.

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