It is time for us to move away from our theme Animal Farm and explore the next theme in our online series Open Up! We hope that the features, graphics and videos we shared through animal farm have brought you closer to your food.
In the next few weeks, through our next theme ‘Cooking the Books’, we’re going to dig deeper into the meaning of corruption, the causes of corruption, and ways in which we can spot and prevent it.
Corruption, like the actors perpetrating it, is a wily creature, coming in many forms and having far reaching political, economic, social, and environmental consequences. By eating up national wealth, arousing distrust amongst people, exploiting natural resources, companies and individuals involved in corruption seriously hinder the development of established and emerging economies.
Corruption within the agricultural sector is ubiquitous and leaves poor and marginalised communities vulnerable. Last year Oxfam published a report. Land and Power: the growing scandal surrounding the new wave of investments in land, which shows just how hard the poor are hit by corruption as competition for land intensifies. Moreover, according to Transparency International in some developing countries, corruption can add 30-45 per cent to the price of connection to a water network, and that in such situations, families face a struggle to survive and escape poverty.
Corruption is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. This can be illustrated in situations where land and water are scarce.
Corruption related to the ownerships rights of land is either administrative or political. Administrative corruption involves public officials utilising bribes, and in some cases, even illegally amending land rights. Political corruption involves persons being evicted from their land for the implementation of large agricultural projects. Political corruption is generally widespread in developing countries. Countries moving away from an agricultural based economy often initiate large infrastructural projects to stimulate growth, which can result in the violation of land rights. Land rights, which have not been legally established – for example, in the case of indigenous peoples who have no “official” documentation that states their legal entitlement to the land they use – is often fertile soil in which corruption can grow.
The negative consequences of corruption related to land rights are manifold and form part and parcel of a number of issues. These are outlined in the economic pillar of Fairfood’s Sustainability Agenda 2012.
Corruption in the water sector tends to occur in the construction, maintenance and regulation of irrigation and drainage systems in developing countries. Farmers in countries where droughts are common rely on irrigation systems, whereas countries that experience seasonal floods rely on drainage systems. There is a general shortage of water for agricultural purposes in the world, and this shortage is intensified by a growing world population, climate change, and by corruptive practices.
Corruption in irrigation and drainage projects is widespread. One form of corruption in irrigation is Subsidy capture, a form of corruption whereby agriculture corporations capture water irrigation subsidies, usually by lobbying practices, while small holders, for whom such subsidies were intended, miss out. Another form is the payment of bribes to officials to cover up discharges of wastewater and toxins in water resources or to allow for excessive abstraction from reservoirs or rivers.
Like all issues, corruption too has solutions. There are some anticorruption tools available to companies to limit the occurrence of corruptive practices. For example, companies could join the United Nations Global Compact Initiative, a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Or they could use Transparency International Integrity Pacts, a tool for preventing corruption in public contracting and Water Integrity Network, which is a multi-stakeholder network that functions as a knowledge centre, as well as an advocacy initiative that raises awareness about the issue of corruption. All these initiatives offer a storehouse of information and support to those who are willing to put the necessary structures in place to curb corruption.
Evidently there are many ways that companies can avoid their books being cooked. Stay tuned in to this theme and read about all the ways that it can be done.
Image: cali.org (CC License)< Back