Oxfam calls for moratarium on funding for land acquisition by World Bank

As much as one-third of the land in some African states has been gobbled up by investors from rich nations, undermining efforts to increase food production, according to Oxfam.

Calling for an immediate moratorium on World Bank funding for the acquisition of tracts of property, the charity said according to its estimates, area the size of London was being sold off to foreign investors every six days.

The last decade had seen a tripling of the World Bank lending to land deals to over $8 billion (£5 billion).

Barbara Stocking, the Oxfam chief executive said, the World Bank was in a unique position to help stop land grabs becoming one of the biggest scandals of the century.

She added, investment should be good news for developing countries and not lead to greater poverty, hunger and hardship.

Land investment in Africa has soared by a factor of two in a few years amid rising food prices and and as Gulf states look to join Asian tiger economies in trying to secure food and energy supplies through direct investment.