Global Policy Forum

Land Ownership and Hunger

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Picture Credit: UN Photo/Logan Abassi
Unfair distribution and lack of access to land are key explanations for poverty and hunger. In many parts of the world, it is the rich elites, not poor rural people, who own the land. And even if they do, inequality in wealth and power relations makes the rural poor more vulnerable to losing their rights. The struggle for land reform, which would shift the balance of power in favor of marginalized landless farmers, has been going on for many decades. However the food and financial crises contribute to worsening the trend towards land concentration, in which governments, agro-industrial corporations and private investors buy up fertile land in poor countries, depriving small farmers of their ability to grow their own food.





GPF PerspectivesUN Documents | Articles

GPF Perspectives 

New evidence on dangers from land grabbing (June 10, 2014)

ActionAid published a report “The Great Land Heist” highlighting how land grabbing in the global South undermines human rights and poverty alleviation. By giving evidence from Cambodia, Kenya, India, Mozambique, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Tanzania the report shows the negative implications of this ‘investment model’ like forced evictions, rising food insecurity, divided communities, human rights violations and increasing poverty, just to name a few. Since 2000, more than 60 million hectares have been subjected to land grabbing, according to the authors. That equals an area larger than Germany. (ActionAid)

Open letter to Harvard University on the Issue of Land Grabbing (April 19, 2012)

GPF and other NGOs sent this open letter to Harvard University to urge it to reconsider its institutional investments in land grab deals. The letter questions Harvard’s participation - along with other universities, public sector pension funds and charitable foundations- in a three day conference in New York City on “Global AgInvesting.” A similar letter was sent out to Princeton and Yale. (Global Policy Forum)

From Public Good to Private Profit: The Shifting Discourse on Land Grabbing (September 6, 2011)

The large-scale acquisition of land by foreign governments, hedge funds and private investors, commonly referred to as “land grabbing,” has accelerated exponentially in recent years. In a time of economic and environmental insecurity, investors view farmland as a tradable asset with the potential to deliver significant profits. Proponents of land grabs, including the World Bank and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), claim land deals are “win-win” situations where investors gain financially and host countries develop their economies and infrastructure to increase food security. In reality, land investments displace rural populations, often without any notice, and diminish their access to land, jobs, and food. (Global Policy in Brief)



UN Documents

Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (May 2012)

On 11 May 2012, at its 38th special sesison, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) officially endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. The Voluntary Guidelines promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development and enhancing the environment. (FAO)

"Vulnerable Land Users Must be Protected by International Guidelines" - UN Expert Urges Rome Summit (October 3, 2011)

In this article, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter warns that governments must adopt universal principles on land investment at the next UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) meeting, or further jeopardize the security of small farmers, herders and fisherfolk. De Shutter emphasizes the devastating effects of land grabbing and urges participating states to reach consensus on the Principles of Responsible Agricultural Investment. Final negotiations on land governance are set to take place at the next plenary session of the CFS from October 17 – 21, 2011. (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food)

How Not to Think About Land Grabbing (January 12, 2011)

"Landgrabbing" or the long-term leasing of large areas of land by investors is not helping to reduce poverty in developing countries. Large-scale investments in farmland are ineffectively managed and do not contribute to rural development, but rather produce food and profits for rich countries. Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, says that investments in agriculture must truly reduce hunger and malnutrition and that we should think beyond the debate about access to land as it is framed today. (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food)

Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (August 2010)

Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, argues that security of tenure and access to land are "essential for the enjoyment of the right to food." De Schutter suggests the strengthening of customary land tenure systems and emphasizes the importance of land redistribution. The report recommends that States improve the protection of land users in a world where commercial pressures on land are increasing. States should respect, protect and fulfil the right to food by increasing recognition of land as a human right.

UN Condemns Land Grabs in Native Territories (January 14, 2010)

UN's latest report on the "State of the World's Indigenous People " has shown that private initiatives- usually backed by the governments - push natives into extreme poverty as they lose their lands. Some governments even identify natives as terrorist because they fight the land grabbing. Deforestation and displacements are the biggest consequences of the land grabbing.

Olivier de Schutter, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, analyses the trend of large-scale acquisitions and massive leases of agricultural land. An estimated 15 to 20 million hectares of farmland in developing countries have been subject to transactions or negotiations involving foreign investors since 2006. The Special Rapporteur examines the potential impact on the human right to adequate food, recalling the obligations imposed on states under international human rights law.

Achieving the Right to Food (October 16, 2007)

In 1948 the United Nations formally adopted the Right to Food as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But even without a legal obligation to treat food as a human right, countries have a moral obligation to ensure freedom from hunger by establishing a food system where resources are distributed more equitably. All people must demand that their leaders take action to guarantee the right to food. (FAO)


Articles



2013 | 2012 l 2011 | 2010 |2009 | 2008

2013


Land Grabbing Is A European Problem Too (July 18, 2013)

Transnational Institute, the European Coordination Via Campesina and the Hands off the Land network have published a joint report on the scale of lang grabbing within Europe. Contrary to conventional wisdom, they argue that land grabbing is not only prevalent in Africa and Latin America, but is happening increasingly in Europe, and in particularly rapid fashion in Eastern Europe. The losers have been smallholder farmers, who have been replaced by investors both foreign and domestic. Therefore, the report calls for a transnational political struggle in order to combat this process. (Transnational Institute, European Coordination Via Campesina, Hands Off the Land Network)

Ranchers Try to Drive Tsimané Indians Off Their Land (March 25, 2013)

In a small Tsimane village in Bolivia’s Amazon jungle, the community who has lived on the land for decades is being pushed out. Cattle ranchers from neighboring areas are trying to appropriate the land, with the backing of the authorities of San Borja. When the villagers refused to accept money for their huts and land, the ranchers reverted to intimidation and attacks. They have fenced off much of the land surrounding the homes in the village. The National Agrarian Institute has not yet responded to the villagers’ request for legal land ownership. Even though the community has lived there for 60 years, their land is not protected due to their nomadic routes. (IPS


The G8, several African governments and transnational corporations such as Cargill came together in 2012 to form the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition”. Cooperation framework, an agreement that forms part of the New Alliance, binds the African governments involved to reform land laws to facilitate foreign investment. As part of the agreement, foreign companies promise to invest heavily in agricultural expansion and development. At the beginning of this year, the government of Cote D’ivoire leased the grain trader Louis Dreyfus 100,000-200,000 hectares of land for rice production. These steps are the G8s response to the global food crisis. However, these dealings force thousands of local communities and farmers off their land; undermine local food markets and lead to the destruction of livelihoods and the deepening food insecurity. There are no policy obligations in the New Alliance to ensure the protection of peasants’ and farmers’ human rights or land rights. Instead, the group suggests voluntary guidelines for governments to monitor private investment.  The UK presidency of the G8 meeting in June 2013 is citing food security as its top priority and will encourage transparency in foreign land deals. However, the guidelines will not be made compulsory and corporations will only be required to reveal basic information surrounding land acquisitions. (Grain)




The Fair Fruit project is a fair trade organization that was set up to assist a group of small hold farmers in Cameroon who lost their land to a foreign agribusiness, Plantation de Haut Penja (PHP). The government leased 4,500 hectares of land to the company, which failed to pay the promised compensation to the local farmers, despite being taken to court.  The NGO behind the Fair Fruit Project, Network Fighting Hunger, helped the farmers to buy land and grow fruit which they buy from them at a fair price. The label on the Fair Fruit packaging initially read “Fair Fruit is grown by Cameroonian farmers who were forced off their land by a transnational company seeking to establish its vast plantations. The fruit is cultivated and harvested in a just and environmentally friendly manner and traded under fair terms”. Thanks to this initiative, the PHP finally paid the full compensation that they owed to the farmers, on the condition that the label was removed. (IPS)


Briefing: Land Reform Key to Kenya’s Future (March 5, 2013)

Disputes over land ownership are rife in Kenya and were a driving factor behind the violence during the 2007 presidential elections. In Baringo a land-related conflict has displaced around 1,000 families, according to officials. The struggle over land ownership dates back to the time of British colonialism, when many people were evicted and left landless.  When Kenya became independent, land was not fairly redistributed among the population. Land is a precious commodity in the country as the majority of Kenyans are heavily dependent on agriculture as a source of revenue. Only 20 percent of the land is fit for cultivation, which further encourages clashes over land tenure.  New reforms introduced by the National Land Commission (NLC) hope to alleviate the problems, yet their success relies on the committee remaining independent from top government officials who often politicize land ownership. (IRIN)


Land holds key to Kenyan rivalries (March 4, 2013)

Many Kenyans believe land disputes are the root causes of election violence. In 1918, the British occupied over three million hectares of land, which is significant considering this constituted almost one fifth of the total arable land. Over time, when the colonial land was distributed, post-independence chiefs allocated land in a way that boosted their electoral base. This resulted in many tribes, such as the Nubian population, living illegally in informal settlements, struggling to gain the title deeds for land they have occupied for centuries. Since the emergence of multi-party democracy, politicians have exploited land grievances as rallying point during campaigns. Kenyans remain unconvinced that the current leaders are committed to land reforms because these reforms directly threaten the interests of the political elite. The Kenya Land Alliance estimates that the Kenyatta family, one of the election’s favorites, owns as much as half a million acres. (Al Jazeera)     

Land Grabs and Fragile Food Systems: The Role of Globalization (March 1, 2013)

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) has released a report entitled ‘Land Grabs and Fragile Food Systems: The Role of Globalization’ which examines the effects of globalization on the food system.  It argues that international trade and investment promotes financial and commercial interests over the human right to food.  Climate change and the food price crisis of 2007-2008 have led food import-dependent countries to acquire increasing amounts of land abroad. The paper argues that land grabbing has escalated due to the deregulation of trade and foreign investment laws. It calls for policy changes that promote a more transparent and balanced international food system. (IATP)


                                                                                                                                                                      

Mozambican Farmers Fear Foreign Land Grabs (February 22, 2013)

Farmers’ unions in Mozambique fear for the local people and smallholders as the government leases an increasing amount of land to foreign investors. Over ten new agribusinesses have acquired land across the country in the last two years. The largest is Prosavana, with more than 10 million hectares leased to Brazilian and Japanese investors. The land intended for the project is currently occupied by thousands of small hold farmers who will be expelled. The company’s main production will be soybeans, which will be exported for international sale. The displacement of local people to make way for agro-industries is becoming increasingly common in the country and although the government promises compensation for the loss of land, these promises are often unmet. The majority of Mozambicans live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for food and income and nearly half of the population survive on less than one dollar a day. With the eviction of thousands of rural communities, poverty in the country is set to deepen. (IPS)


Land Is Life, and It’s Slipping Away (February 14, 2013)

The economic and food crisis of 2008 sparked an upsurge of foreign land investment in Cambodia. By 2012, around 22 percent of the country’s land had been acquired by private firms. These acquisitions are approved by the government which, according to a clause in Cambodia’s Land Law, is allowed to lease up to 25,000 hectares for almost one hundred years at a time. There is little data available about these land deals and they are typically granted without consulting the local landowners or resident people. The vast majority of the population in Cambodia are subsistence farmers and rely heavily on the land to survive. These land leases have disastrous consequences for agricultural families in the country, twenty percent of whom now find themselves landless. (IPS)




Burma 'Latest Flashpoint' in Global Land Grabbing Epidemic (February 11, 2013)

International firms are turning to Burma to acquire land and invest in its vast natural resources, displacing large numbers of people and increasing national poverty. The rise in foreign investment comes as the Burmese government has announced its policy to allow foreign companies to obtain 100% shares in oil and gas projects along with plans to liberalize mining laws in the country. Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the Munden Project have recently released reports that express concern over the rapid deforestation of the country and warn of the economic detriments to both investors and local communities. (DVB)

We Grow, They Bulldoze, We Re-Plant (February 10, 2013)

Palestinians are calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. The boycott action follows a growing number of initiatives from the Gaza Strip that asks Palestinian supporters to replace aid donations with boycott action. The boycott action is two-fold. It calls for the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 242, which requests the withdrawal of occupation forces from the Gaza Strip. It simultaneously raises awareness of how Israeli settlements benefit from the oppression of Palestinian farmers. Israeli authorities prohibit Palestinians from accessing the 300 metres flanking the Gaza-Israel border. In reality, the Israeli army regularly attacks Palestinians up to two kilometres from the border in some areas, rendering more than 35 percent of Gaza’s farmland off-limits. As part of this campaign, Palestinians are planting trees in these border regions, despite knowing that sooner or later, they will be destroyed by Israeli forces. (Inter Press Service)

 

Ethiopia Dam Project is Devastating the Lives of Remote Indigenous Groups (February 6, 2013)

Lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia is a Unesco world heritage site that has stayed largely unaffected for thousands of years and is known for its remote cultures and tribes. Now, human rights violations are rife in the area, as communities are displaced by the Ethiopian government to make way for foreign-owned large industrial farms. Soldiers have been bought in to oversee the transformation and are reported to be killing and imprisoning local people. The Omo river, which is the life-source for many of the tribes, is being redirected to the commercial farms through the building of a large dam, leaving communities with no water resources.  The devastation of the land brings with it threats of famine and poverty. (Guardian)

“Unheard Voices” Speak Out: Indigenous Ethiopians Demand a Stop to Human Rights Abuses Stemming from Agricultural Investment Policies (February 5, 2013)

The Oakland Institute carries out extensive research on land investments in Ethiopia and has recently released a report entitled “Unheard Voices: The Human Rights Impact of Land Investments on Indigenous Communities in Gambella.” The paper reveals that the Ethiopian government has violated international law through the mass displacement of indigenous communities to allow for foreign investors, predominantly from India, to acquire the land.  Hundreds of thousands of indigenous people were evicted from their homes and farmland without consultation or compensation. The Oakland Institute calls on the government to abide by international law and halt the illegal eviction of indigenous people. The report was released ahead of the Indian-Ethiopian Civil Society Summit on Land Investments on February 6 2013, which will address India’s role in agricultural land investment in Ethiopia. (The Oakland Institute)


Land Grabs and Human Rights Violations Exposed in Liberia Ahead of Global Development Summit (February 1, 2013)

Sime Darby and Indonesian Goldren Veloreum, two large Malaysian palm oil companies, are set to acquire more than 1.5 million acres of land in Liberia. The agribusinesses have signed long term land-lease contracts with the Liberian Government. According to several NGOs, including Friends of the Earth Liberia and Save my Future Foundation, the government leases violate several human rights conventions sanctioned by Liberia. The government has endorsed these mass land grabs as a strategy to generate economic development for the country. However, the food security and livelihoods of local communities are threatened as farmers and local people are forced off their land. The NGOs hoped to address the issue of land grabbing at the global development summit in Liberia on February 1, 2013. (FOE)

Landowners Or Laborers: What Choice Will Developing Countries Make? (January 2013)

Rights and Resources Initiatives (RRI) has recently published a report entitled “Landowners or Laborers: What Choice Will Developing Countries Make?” The report looks at how economic and political pressures have led countries in the global south to hand over local land to foreign investors. It examines how citizen land rights and issues surrounding land- grabbing were dealt with in 2012. To read the full report click here. (Rights and Resources Initiatives)


Small Steps to Land Reform in Eastern DRC (January 29, 2013)

Local farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) struggle to gain access to land to cultivate crops. Disputes over land rights are a major instigator of conflict in the region. Although disagreements between small-hold farmers can often be resolved; once large land owners are involved the dispute becomes unbalanced. In response, aid agencies such as UN Habitat have become involved in arbitrating disputes over land rights.  Friends of the Earth (FAE) and the Federation of Congolese Agricultural Producers' Organizations (FOPAC) have lobbied for more representation of agricultural workers in local decision making over land rights, which has been successfully integrated into the new agricultural code. However, implementation of this new law has not yet been enforced by the government and the new code is vague concerning mass land acquisition by foreign investors.  (All Africa)


Corporate Land Grabs Reveal a Hidden Agenda: Controlling the Water (January 24, 2013)

Reports on land grabbing reveal that investors target control of both the land and the water beneath. Today’s “water barons”- multi-billionaires, financial institutions and corporate multinationals- are increasingly investing in water resources globally. Over-extraction and large land purchases in the Ogallala Aquifer and Great Lakes region in the US are proof that water scarcity is a growing problem not just in the Global South. Furthermore, efforts to track the water footprint of companies and other water-related risks, such as the “water disclosure project,” could actually backfire by providing information to investors interested in water-grabbing. Thus, regulatory mechanisms at the national and international level are needed to control large-scale land (and water) investments threatening the lives and livelihoods of local communities dependent on these resources.(AlterNet)


Argentine Farm Sales Raise Questions of Land Speculation By Soros (January 15, 2013)

The Agro-industry is capitalizing on the growing demand for biofuels. Billionaire George Soros is making vast amounts of money by buying land in South America and selling the site once it has been converted for the production of biofuels. Adecoagro, an agro-business of which Soros is a top shareholder, has made $132 million from selling farmland for this purpose. These deals are leading to radical and dangerous changes in land use around the world. However, according to a report organized by the Farm Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the process of producing biofuels is even more detrimental to the environment than burning regular fuels. Not only is this practice ecologically dubious, the mass purchase of land to facilitate its production also forces subsistence farmers off their land.  (Corp Watch)

As Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemala’s Hunger Pangs (January 5, 2013)

The biofuels industry’s groth has contributed to spikes in food prices and a shortage of land for food-based agriculture in all corners of the world, but especially in Guatemala. With its corn-based diet and proximity to the US, Central America has long been vulnerable to economic riptides related to the US corn policy. While corn prices in Guatemala have doubled due to the US using 40 percent of its crop to make biofuels, Guatemala’s own land has proven ideal for producing raw materials for biofuels. Large companies like Pantaleon Sugar Holdings are profiting from these new developments, Guatemala’s large poor population is suffering. (New York Times)


2012


Tanzania Takes Major Step Towards Curbing Land 'Grabs' (December 21, 2012)

The Tanzanian government has started restricting the size of land that single large-scale foreign and local investors can lease for agricultural use. The government had launched an initiative in 2008 to increase private-sector investments in agriculture, so this new move is a relief to many land rights organizations and farmers. The Tanzanian NGO Land Rights Research and Resources Institute and the Oakland Institute called on the government to review its investment policy and to limit the amount of land given to foreign investors. A large majority of general land disputes in 2011 involved powerful investors and often displaced small-scale farmers and local communities. From Tanzania’s estimated population of 42 million people, only 0.02% of its citizens have traditional land ownership titles. (IPS)


Commission Will Report Over 300 Land Grabs to Myanmar MPs (December 17, 2012)

The commission formed to identify farmland ownership in Myanmar will bring over 300 land grab cases to the national parliament and investigate them. Since the formation of the commission, farmers have reported about 4,000 cases of land grabs. Due to farmers’ poor education and the local authorities’ unwillingness to cooperate, the work of the commission is difficult. The cases that the commission is investigating will be reported to the President of Myanmar. Regardless of the work of the commission, farmers may not get their land back in all cases, but will get compensation for the lost land. (The Myanmar Times)


Cameroon: Campaigners Oppose Industrial Palm Oil Plantation (December 14, 2012)

Up to 45, 000 people are at risk of losing their livelihoods if a large palm oil plantation project in southwestern Cameroon will proceed. SG Sustainble Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), a subsidiary of Herakles Farms, is overseeing the project after signing an agreement with the Cameroonian government in 2009. SGSOC still lacks presidential approval so the project has been unlawful since 2010. Campaigners argue that the environmental and socioeconomic gains from preserving the rainforest outweigh the promised benefits of the plantation. In addition, the working conditions and salaries at SGSOC’s plantation are deplorable and an investigation by Greenpeac e and the Oakland Institute noted human rights violations. Opinion among the local population is divided because of the job opportunities that SGSOC is promising to provide. (Farmlandgrab)


Law of the Land: Land Grabs Threaten Local Livelihoods in Uganda (November 28, 2012)

Large-scale land acquisitions are on the rise in Uganda, and are threatening the lives of many. In the race for securing their own food supplies and profiting from growing biofuel production, foreign governments and companies are aiming to get a share of the scarce land resources. Companies like the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe often under-consult and insufficiently compensate local communities, leaving their livelihoods threatened. The effects of these land grabs can also disturb community cohesion, as land in Uganda is mostly based on customary systems. The land rights of citizens are recognized in various mechanisms, but there remains a wide gap between policy and practice. In various cases in Uganda corporations have downplayed or dismissed the difficulties faced by displaced populations. (Think Africa Press)


Civil Society Groups to Investors: Stop Land Grabbing (November 30, 2012)

Civil society groups issued an online statement on Friday November 30, demanding banks and pension funds to stop investing land grabs. A global farmland investment conference that is taking place in London on December 3-5 and bringing together funds with more than US $ 3.00 trillion in assets to explore the opportunities for investments in Africa, Latin America and Russia. Since 2008 financial investments in land have contributed to more than 200 million hectares of land being taken away from small farmers and other rural communities. The process frequently involves violent evictions and human rights violations. Many see private investment in farmland as low risk and pro-development, but in reality such investments are usually a disaster for local communities and the environment. (Farmlandgrab)

How Development Organisations Can Tackle the Fisheries Challenge (November 27, 2012)

NGOs play a crucial role in resource management as “ocean-grabbing” and overfishing are turning into ecological disasters. Development actors must regard oceans, seas, lakes and rivers with the same scrutiny that they apply to the management of farmland, forests and other terrestrial resources. NGO advocacy efforts can focus on securing the ability of small-scale fishers to sustain their livelihoods. Additionally, after sounding the alarm on land-grabbing, the development community should press for international guidelines on sustainable fisheries. (Guardian)

Uganda: The Fight for Women's Land Rights (November 20, 2012)

Ugandan women provide 70-80% of agricultural and food production labor but only own between 7-20% of the lands. There are no laws explicitly prohibiting women from owning land, but customary and inheritance laws make it difficult for Ugandan women to own land. Many Ugandan women’s organizations have been campaigning for the inclusion of a co-ownership clause into land law with no success. In addition to increasing agricultural productivity, owning land could play a critical role in women’s social standing, especially in a land like Uganda that suffers from high gender inequality. However, very little success has been seen so far, and population pressures, market inequalities, and land grabs by large international firms are likely to increase tensions around land tenure. (Think Africa Press)

Podcast: Landgrabbing in Liberia (November 20, 2012)

Land grabs on a very large scale are taking place in Liberia, one of the poorest countries in the world. This podcast interviews a Liberian human rights and environmental campaigner Silas Siakor. He calls attention to a deal the Liberian government made with Sime Darby, a Malaysian multinational. The government allocated 350 000 hectares to the corporation, while affected Liberian farmers only became aware of the deal when they got evicted from their lands. This has caused widespread resentment and conflict in the area. In total more than 1.5 million acres of land has been taken over by multinational corporations for oil palm and rubber plantations, and there are plans to expand further these land grabs. (Ejolt)

Seeing More Clearly: New Perspectives on the Global Land Grab (October 30, 2012)

The recent 2012 international conference on global land grabbing reflected an attempt to place empirical findings in wider conceptual and theoretical debates. While the urgency of the topic has certainly not disappeared, this year’s conference focused on strong wider ideas and theorization of land grabbing. This helps to place the current phenomena in longer-term processes of agrarian change and transformation, and to understand the contemporary political economy of land grabbing in its historical context. In addition, this year’s conference increasingly saw land grabbing as a process that unfolds over quite long periods. All agreed that both short and long-term approaches for this vital issue are needed, and that a dialogue between academics, activists and policymakers is crucial. (Future Agricultures)

Slideshow: Who's behind the land grabs? (October 16, 2012)

GRAIN has pieced together a slideshow that lists individuals who have been actively pursuing or supporting farmland grabs. The list is not comprehensive but rather helps to get an idea of who and what kind of people are involved. The “land grabber profiles” indicate who and which institutions support them where to find more information on these specific land grabs. The list indicates that the number of land grabbers is small, in stark contrast to the high number of people displaced by their actions. In addition to land, these land grabs also involve water and other resources. The latest dataset on land grabs claims that 10 million hectares of land have been grabbed by foreign companies on average every year since 2007. (GRAIN)

International Civil Society Warns Nations of ‘Resource Grabbing’ (November 7, 2012)

The global financial crisis and the negative effects of climate change are causing a new wave of land, water, and resources grabbing. The Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) urged the 51 state leaders of the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit to protect the tenure rights of small-scale food producers to ensure a more equitable governance of natural resources. AEFP, a group of civil society organizations, demand in their new declaration that states abide by the goals of food sovereignty and sustainable land and natural resource management. Land and resource grabbing in Asia is accelerating in the name of “development”, and several European Union-wide policies are fueling this trend. The group also called on governments to respect the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories and resources, and to include them in decision-making processes. (Inquirer)


Ocean-grabbing as Serious a Threat as Land-grabbing – UN Food Expert (October 30, 2012)

Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur for the right to food warned about the threat of ocean-grabbing to food security in his new report on fisheries and the right to food, arguing that the seizure of ocean resources could be as serious a threat as land-grabbing. He called governments and international bodies to halt the exhaustion of fish stocks and to rethink the models of fisheries that currently prevail. Ocean-grabbing diverts resources away from local populations, and prevents fisheries from playing a critical role in securing the right to food for millions. De Schutter called for coexistence between industrial fishing and the rights of small-scale fishers and coastal communities. (UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food)

Land Acquired Over Past Decade Could Have Produced Food for a Billion People (October 3, 2012)

Oxfam calls on the World Bank to stop backing foreign investors who acquire land for biofuels. Oxfam’s analysis of land deals shows that international land investors and biofuel producers have taken over land around the world that could feed nearly 1 billion people. More than 60% of these export-oriented investments in agricultural land by foreign investors were in developing countries with serious hunger problems. A study by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) estimated that about 30% of World Bank’s projects in international land deals involved involuntary resettlement. Oxfam has urged the UK government to use its influence as one of World Bank’s largest shareholders to persuade the World Bank to freeze its involvement in these land deals. You can read Oxfam’s report here. (Guardian)

Interactive Map Shows Scale and Speed of Cambodia's Land-grabbing Crisis (September 21, 2012)

An interactive map shows the full extent of Cambodia’s land-grabbing crisis.  Over 2.1 Million hectares of land has been transferred from subsistence farmers into the hands of agricultural firms and an estimated 400 000 people have been affected by land disputes since 2003. The government leases “private state land” to companies that agree to farm it and occupants rarely receive proper if any compensation. This process is transforming Cambodian society from a nation of subsistence farmers  to landless seasonal workers or garment factory workers. (Global Witness)

How African Governments Allow Farmers to Be Pushed off Their Land (March 2, 2012)

African governments are selling off land at a scale unseen since the original colonial land grab, with very uncertain public benefits. Up to 90% of sub-Saharan Africa’s land area is currently untitled and in the eyes of national laws several million Africans remain landless tenants of the state. As lands without registered titles fall to the state, it becomes easy to lease it to foreign investors. Along with farmland, governments like to hold on to lucrative forests, woodlands, rangelands and marshlands, often claiming that these resources are too precious for ordinary citizens. Even in countries where laws have changed - including Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan – governments have found loopholes to justify lawful mass dispossessions. This Guardian article argues that land grabs represent the most primitive form of capitalist transformation – creating wealth through mass dispossession of the poor.(Guardian)

Cameroon: U.S. Firm Under Fire Over Palm Oil Project (September 24, 2012)

A huge palm oil project is stirring up controversy in Cameroon.  A local subsidiary of Herakles Farms, a US-based agribusiness, signed an agreement with the government to establish a 73,100-hectare palm oil plantation.  This project under a 99-year lease  is one of the largest on the continent. Campaigners, including WWF and Cameroonian civil society groups, are arguing that this project is an example of how Africa land deals are threatening sustainable development and human rights. They also argue that the investor’s promises of “sustainable development” projects are empty. Herakles farms has rejected these accusations, and parts of the local community have also spoken against the environmentalists, claiming that they simply want Cameroon to remain an undeveloped natural reserve. The environmentalists urge the local communities not to underestimate the role of forests in their survival. (All Africa)


World’s Largest Database on International Land Deals Published (September 2012)

The Land Matrix database, published in September by an international coalition of NGOs and research groups, is now the world’s largest database on international land deals since 2000. While reliable data has been hard to find on land grabs, this database offers unprecedented detail on who’s investing, where and what for. However, the data is not fully reliable as access to information in countries varies, and smaller deals are often harder to track. The database includes 1,006 deals covering 70.2 m hectares (half the size of western Europe). The vast majority of deals are for agricultural projects, of which fewer than 30% are for food crops. Almost 20% are for non-food crops such as biofuels and for livestock feed.To access the database, click here. (Land Matrix)


Cambodian Activists Call for International Sugar Boycott (September 11, 2012)

International and local human rights activists are calling for an international boycott of a sugar supplier accused of participating in land grabs and illegal evictions throughout rural Cambodia. More than 700,000 people relying on subsistence farming have been evicted from their lands to make way for sugar plantations. The Cambodian government has employed the development of agri-business and industry in the country through the concessions to private corporations. Almost 90 percent of the country’s 14.5 million inhabitants do not hold title deeds to the land they live and work on. Numerous attempts by activists to present this evidence to the company have been ignored or rebuffed, and the community’s civil complaint to the Provincial court has been pending for over five years. (Corpwatch)

Responsible Farmland Investing? Current Efforts to Regulate Land Grabs Will Make Things Worse (August 22, 2012)

This Grain article argues that voluntary self-regulation in the case of land grabbing is unreliable and not an efficient way to remedy the fundamental wrongness of these deals. There are currently two types of efforts to regulate land grabs; on the hand governments and international agencies are trying to draw global standards on land investments, and on the other the corporate sector is drawing its own standards on the issue. But regardless of who is creating rules for responsible investment in farmland, these are all voluntary and focus on making the project work for the investor. While FAO is encouraging direct civil society participation in these processes, there is still no public oversight or non-voluntary restrictions on land investments. Rather than making land grabs “responsible”, we need to stop financing them. And instead of promoting the growth of industrial agriculture, we need to strengthen community-based food sovereignty approaches. (Grain)


Wall Street’s Africa Land Grab (August 15, 2012)

Wall Street’s Land Grab in Africa reveals how the financial system endemically thrives off of inequality. With global population growth, rise of middle class diets, and a decrease in crop yields connected to climate change, Wall Street translates yet another case of scarce resources into massive profits. Once international investors have reaped the benefits of cheap land deals and large scale industrial farming, the local population is left to bear the environmental and human costs. In other words, the same financial firms that drove the world into a global recession through risky financial practices are now doing the same with the world’s food supply. The article argues that the only way to minimize the damage is to cut down the size of banks. (Colorlines)

As Myanmar Reforms, Discontent Grips Countryside (August 9, 2012)

While the government of Myanmar is moving ahead with many political and economic changes, most farmers, who make up seventy percent of the population, are either unaware of reforms or fear them. Observers point out that new legislation on farmland, which allows the state to expropriate land in the “national interest,” can accelerate land grabs by domestic and foreign companies. The number of farmers classified as “landless” is on the rise, and many farmer groups are beginning to protest land confiscation and ownership disputes in various areas of the country. Without placing the interests of farmers at the heart of its reforms, the “new Myanmar” risks creating a new group of impoverished urban migrants and deepening its food insecurity. (Reuters) 

Cambodia’s Deadly Land Grab Battle (July 24, 2012)

In Cambodia, disputes over land are getting increasingly violent as state authorities and private companies use armed forces to attack civilians working to protect arable land and forest. Private firms control nearly one-quarter of Cambodia’s surface area and the Ministry of Environment has signed over 10% of the national conservation areas to private plantations. With little or no public consultation or environmental assessments, land concessions by the government have affected more than 400,000 Cambodians in 12 provinces. While recent high-profile attacks have intimated activists against land grabbing, most of them remain unyielding in the battle to gain land back to their communities. (Farmlandgrab) 

Iowa Firm Accused of Displacing Tanzanians for Profit (July 11, 2012)

According to the Oakland Institute, a project by AgriSol Energy, a major U.S energy company, would displace more than 160,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, many of whom are subsistence farmers.  The Tanzanian government supports the AgriSol project under an initiative that claims to “promote agricultural development through public-private partnerships.” This partnership is contingent on the government leasing the land to the company for just 25 cents per acre. While AgriSol is expecting to earn approximately 300 million dollars a year from the project, thousands of refugees in Tanzania are losing their lands and livelihoods. (IPS)

Guatemala Farmers Losing Their Land to Europe's Demand for Biofuels (July 5, 2012)

As Guatemala becomes one of the world centers for growing biofuel crops, it is undermining the right to food and livelihoods in the country. In the Polochic valley of southern Guatemala, state and private securities forces are evicting ethnic Maya Q'eqchi communities of smallholders farmers from their land as companies are moving in to satisfy Europe’s hunger for biofuels. The 2008 decision by European countries to obtain 10% of all transport fuels from biofuels by 2020 is the main catalyst behind many evictions. As biofuel projects are diverting food from local people to foreign gas tanks, serious conflict is likely to ensue. (Guardian) 

Cambodians See Nothing Sweet in EU Sugar Accord (July 5, 2012)

The EU’s “Everything But Arms” initiative to increase trade with developing nations by removing import quotas and duties is fueling land grabs in Cambodia, particularly by the sugar industry. The Cambodian government granted thousands of hectares to local and foreign-owned sugar firms with little compensation for more than 3000 dispossessed families. While investors are enriching themselves, rural farmers have no choice but to work for about $1.50 a day on plantations that replaced their rice fields. Activists are now encouraging a boycott of Cambodian “blood sugar” in the EU market. (AFP)

Egyptian Farmers Make Themselves Heard (June 27, 2012) 

In 1992, the Egyptian government under Hosni Mubarak signed Law 96 which transferred land from small tenant farmers back to large owners. Additionally, the Agriculture Ministry, under pressure from USAID, has focused on promoting agricultural export of cash crops at the expense of food crops like wheat. These policies have left Egypt heavily reliant on food imports and vulnerable to food price volatility, with fertile land in control of a few aristocrats. Since the revolution, about 35 farmers’ unions have formed and are now in a legal battle with political elites of the old regime to get their land back. (New York Times) 

UK Investors Gather for Controversial Africa Land Summit (June 25, 2012)

Investors and pension fund managers are gathering in London this week for the Agriculture Investment Summit which focuses on “untapped opportunity” in farmland investment as an “emerging and expanding asset class.” A coalition of 60 international development, environment and farming organizations are demanding that these investors stop the land grab which is taking local people’s land at the fastest rate since colonial time. An estimated 5 percent of Africa’s agricultural land has been sold or leased to Western investors since 2000. As one billion people are already in hunger, land must stay in the hands of local communities so that they can feed themselves. (Guardian) 

Global Resources Grab Kills One Person A Week (June 19, 2012)

A recent report by Global Witness finds that at least one person is being killed in an environmental dispute around the world each week. The forms of killings range from clashes between community and state security forces to assassinations of those who spoke against unjust natural resources deals. Brazil, Peru, Colombia and the Philippines had the highest numbers of reported killings in the past ten years. These trends reflect the increasingly violent nature of global land and natural resources acquisitions. (Reuters/Global Witness)

Why Land Rights Should Be on the Rio+20 Agenda (May 25, 2012)

The issue of land rights is a missing item on the agenda for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development which takes place on June 20-22 in Brazil. A number of developed nations, including the US and the Europeans, have opposed any reference to this issue in the principle outcome document for Rio+20. This article by the World Resources Institute calls on delegations to step up and get land rights on the Rio+20 agenda and goals. A global commitment to strong land rights will help small farmers to protect their land from large-scale acquisitions by foreign investors, commercial agriculture and extractive resource operations. (World Resources Institute)

Is Your Retirement Fund A Land-Grabber? (May 17, 2012)

TIAA-CREF, one of the biggest pension funds in the US, has created a new investment vehicle to bet the retirement assets of University faculty and staff on the rising price of the world's farmland. In a time of economic insecurity, institutional investors are looking for alternatives to stocks and bonds, which are performing poorly. The increased investment of ordinary citizens’ retirement funds in land grabs is considered a “win-win” situation by the financial industry, which is betting that pressure on a limited resource will lead to a windfall. People on the ground tell a different story. (IATP)

The Philippines: The Family Plot (May 12, 2012)

In 1989, the owners of Hacienda Luisita, a sugar plantation estate owned by the family of the President of the Philippines, persuaded farmworkers to give up their land rights in exchange for shares and guaranteed five or six days of work per week. When the company violated its contract and gave some farmers work only one day per week, the United Luisita Workers’ Union took their case to the courts and forced the government to re-examine the 1989 agreement. On April 24thof 2012, the Workers’ Union won a big victory against Hacienda Luisita when the Supreme Court upheld a decision to redistribute 4, 335 hectares of the land to 6, 269 farmers. This article outlines this rare success of land reform in the Philippines. (The Economist)

Land Grabs Menace Food Security in Latin America despite FAO Claims (May 11, 2012)

Over 100 social organizations from Latin American and the Caribbean denounced FAO’s position on land grabs before the UN agency’s annual Conference in the region in late March. The group was responding to a recent claim by FAO that “the land grabbing phenomenon is in its early stages and only found in two large countries: Argentina and Brazil.” The statement provoked a critical analysis of FAO’s position which, in the words of the group, “legitimizes the industrial monocultures responsible for the expulsion of farmers and indigenous communities from their lands.” (GRAIN)

UN Adopts Historic ‘Land Grab’ Guidelines (May 11, 2012)

In a landmark decision, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has approved a set of global guidelines that call on governments to protect the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries. The guidelines were developed over the past three years in a negotiating process which involved governments, civil society organizations and the private sector. Although they are non-binding, the guidelines mark the first international agreement on the governance of land tenure. (BBC)

Uganda Threatens to Expel Oxfam and NGOs over Land-Grabbing Claims (May 10, 2012)

The Ugandan government has told a group of 60 NGOs (local and international) to formally apologize for “inciting violence” over alleged land grabs and for “harming the name” of the President. Uganda’s Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onex has also threatened to deregister Oxfam and the Uganda Land Alliance for allegations made by a 2011 Oxfam report, which stated that over 20,000 people had been evicted in the Mubende and Kiboga districts to make way for the UK-registered New Forests Company. (Guardian)

Land, Life and Justice (April 2012)

This report investigates cases of land grabbing in Uganda, focusing in particular on palm oil plantations in the Lake Victoria region. The report finds that the development of large-scale industrial agriculture is depriving local communities of access to natural resources, exacerbating rural poverty and aggravating the risk of food crises.  (Friends of the Earth International)

Food Fears Feed Global Scramble for Land (May 2, 2012)

The modern-day rush for farmland accelerated after the 2007-2008 food price crisis, in part due to concerns that the planet would not be able to feed a projected 9 billion people by 2050. In order to protect the future food security of their own populations, countries started to acquire large tracts of farmland in foreign states to produce export crops. In this article, the author argues that with fundamental drivers like food prices remaining high, interest in farmland is here to stay. (AlertNet)

Middle Eastern Investors “Grab” Sudan Farmland (April 30, 2012)

To the dismay of local farmers, the government of Sudan has made a deal with Saudi Arabian company Dalla Al Baraka which allows the firm to produce food for export on two million acres of farmland without having to pay taxes or follow Sudanese law. Since Sudan divided into two countries, with most of Sudan’s oil deposits in the South, the Sudanese government has been seeking various foreign direct investment deals to offset the sharp downturn in its export income. (CorpWatch)

World Bank Overseeing Global Land Grab (April 23, 2012)

The World Bank continues to facilitate land grabbing in poor and developing countries around the world finds a new report by Friends of the Earth. With examples from more than 60 countries, the report suggests that the programmes and policies pushed by the World Bank, such as the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI), create an illusion that by following a set of principles, land grabs can proceed without disastrous consequences. The RAI framework may “seek ‘transparency’ from land deals, but even if done ‘transparently,’ the transfer of large tracts of land will still deprive smallholder farmers and local communities from a crucial, life-sustaining resource.” (IPS Terraviva)

Land is becoming a Scarce Commodity (March 29, 2012)

In this interview, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter gives an overview of the recently adopted guidelines on “The Responsible Governance of Tenures of Land, Fisheries and Forests.” The draft guidelines seek to clarify what states should do to protect land users that are dependent on their land for survival. Although the guidelines show a commitment at the international level by the Committee on World Food Security to address land and water grabbing, they are not binding. (Food First)

Ethiopia to Accelerate Land Commercialization amid Opposition (March 23, 2012)

Plans by the Ethiopian government to clear 100,000 hectares of land in the west of the country have left 19 people dead. In the past four years alone, Ethiopia has sold or leased over 400,000 hectares of farmland to foreign investors that are looking to grow biofuels or crops primarily for export, while the country remains one of the world’s top five nations receiving food aid. Every month, at least 400 investors (including increasing numbers of US and European companies) are coming to Ethiopia to rent plots, says the Director of the Agriculture Ministry’s Investment team. In the Gambella region alone, 228,000 hectares have already been leased and another 877,000 hectares have been earmarked for investors. (Bloomberg)

India: 900m Hectares of Arable Land Wasted in Africa (March 19, 2012)

At the opening of the 8th India-Africa project partnership, the Indian Minister of Industry, Commerce and Textile, Anand Sharma stated that close to 900 million hectares of farmland in Africa were not being “properly utilized.” Sharma’s speech was an indirect reference to India’s interest in acquiring African farmland. At the conference, the Vice President of Zimbabwe vowed to work with India and create “win-win” scenarios for both parties. While land acquisition deals are “win-win” for host governments and foreign investors, they are consistently a big “loose” for local populations that are displaced and left without a means to survive. (All Africa)

Brazil Groups Say Farmland Rules Choke Investment (March 9, 2012)

In 2010, the Attorney-General of Brazil introduced a new law limiting foreign land speculation and acquisition. Under the new law, foreign-controlled companies cannot own more than 25 percent of any municipality and would no longer be considered Brazilian even if they had its headquarters in Brazil. Like the soy, paper and pulp industry, the sugarcane sector in Brazil is highly dependent on foreign capital and sees government restrictions on foreign investment in land as an obstacle to future ethanol production. The sugarcane industry estimates that restrictions on foreign investment will deprive the agricultural sector of 100 billion reais ($56.15 billion). The new rules prevent the companies from taking small farmers’ land. (Reuters)

What Should Companies Do When States Offer Prime Land on a Platter? (March 6, 2012)

Land grabbing is often done through a legal process, where states evict and displace rural farmers by invoking the doctrine of “eminent domain” in order to sell the land to foreign states or institutions. While both the governments and corporate buyers believe that investing in land, will be a “win-win” situation for communities, governments, and corporate buyers, there is much evidence that land grabs displace farmers and leave them worse off This Guardian article gives a good overview of land grabs and identifies steps taken by the Institute for Human Rights and Business and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization to develop guidelines on responsible governance of land tenure. (Guardian)

India Has No Plans to Buy Farmland Abroad - Agriculture Minister (March 5, 2012)

According to India’s Agriculture Minister, the Indian government has no plans to buy or help companies buy farmland abroad. This message is in stark contrast to reports from India’s agribusiness companies, who say that buying land overseas has been on the table for years, and many of them are planning to grow soybeans and palm oil in South America. These discussions illustrate the global nature of land grabs as firms look to make a quick profit and governments look to secure food for a growing population. (Reuters)

The Global Water Grab (March 2012)

This article gives a good overview of the growing phenomenon of water grabbing, the taking of finite water resources by powerful actors for their own benefit. Like land, water is increasingly being described as a commodity, a “blue gold” sought after by countries and private investors worldwide. (Transnational Institute)

Data Set on Over 400 Land Grabs Globally (February 23, 2012)

GRAIN has launched a new data set documenting 416 recent large-scale land grabs by foreign investors. The deals listed were initiated after 2006 and have either taken place or are in the process of completion. The list is not exhaustive but provides a stark snapshot of how private investors and agribusiness companies are expanding their land acquisition deals in the wake of the food and financial crises of 2008. The data set covers close to 35 million hectares of land in 66 countries. GPF is very concerned about land grabbing and will keep updating this list as more information becomes available. (GRAIN)

Contract Farming Law to Curb Rogue Investors Coming(February 27, 2012)

The Tanzanian government will soon vote on a bill in Parliament to protect smallholder farmer land rights against exploitation by foreign private investors. The law will restrict foreign ownership of land and will force investors to identify whether they plan to cultivate biofulels or crops for consumption. In 2010, the Agrarian Development Ministry of Brazil made a similar move and limited foreign land acquisition. (Tanzania News Daily)

Liberia: Land Grab or Development Opportunity? (February 17, 2012)

In April 2010, the Liberian government granted Malaysian company Sime Darby Plantations a permit to cultivate 10,000 hectares of palm oil, without consulting the local population. The agribusiness company is now applying to acquire an additional 35,000 hectares of land, but aggrieved citizens believe that the land grab will displace many more Liberians. Although the Liberian president admits the government should have “gone about the negotiations differently,” no steps have been taken to correct the “oversight.” Meanwhile, Sime Darby maintains that it has not seized land and that it is “serious about being part of the community.” (IRIN)

New Global Land Rush Trampling Human Rights (February 6, 2012)

In Sub-Saharan Africa, millions of people rely on their land without Western-style legal ownership of the land. In this model, the land is claimed by governments but “held in common” and managed by local communities. With speed and on a large scale, foreign investors are taking advantage of such loose property laws and making deals with governments in the name of “economic development.” These deals ignore the legitimacy of rural communities customary land tenure and remove “ethnically defined populations from their land.” (National Geographic)

Funds Focus on Farming Fortunes (February 6, 2012)

UK firm Insight Investment is part of the latest class of firms targeting the farming sector in search of profits. Insight views farmland as a growing investment in a world where natural resources are finite and the global demand for agricultural products continues to rise with a growing population. This article outlines the general investment principle behind buying or leasing farmland—its many possibilities and potential downfalls. The article leaves out the human rights costs of farmland acquisitions, specifically the threat to small farmers and their livelihoods and food security. (farmlandgrab.org)

The 21st Century African Land Rush (February 2012)

This map illustrates the recent trend where private investors, firms and governments buy and lease farmland in order to meet rising demand for agrofuels, invest in their own food security and make a quick profit. The map outlines large land acquisitions in Africa and identifies key commodities driving land use change from 1990 to 2007. It is important to note that land grabs are not limited to Africa or the global South but take place in “developed” countries as well. (Christian Science Monitor)

Thousands ‘Forcibly Relocated’ in Ethiopia, says HRW Report (January 17, 2012)

42% of the land in the fertile Gambella region of Ethiopia has either been bought or is being marketed to foreign investors for commercial agricultural purposes. According to a new Human Rights Watch report, tens of thousands of people have been forced to relocate to make way for agri-business ventures. At the beginning of harvest season, villagers are being forced to move dry areas with poor-quality soil and have been promised food assistance packages. Government failure to provide improved access to services has caused “endemic hunger and cases of starvation.” (Guardian)

Argentine Venture Earns Irish Firm $83m (January 7, 2012)

Just days ahead of a vote by the Argentinean parliament to limit the purchase of farmland by investors, Irish-owned company Fondomonte, which produces corn, wheat and soya, has been sold to Saudi Arabia’s largest food company Almarai, the biggest dairy company in the Gulf region. The acquisition is part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to invest in emerging markets and outsource highly water-intensive grain production. (The Irish Times)

Hedge-Fund Millionaire Diggle Bets on Farms, Life Sciences (January 2, 2012)

Hedge-fund millionaire Stephen Diggle plans to open his personal portfolio of farmland and biotechnology companies to investors, promising high returns in a volatile market. According to Diggle, buying farms and orchards — at the expense of smallholder farmers — is the best way to make profits as global food prices continue to rise. Diggle is one of many investors who are looking towards farmland to make a quick profit as the global population and demand for food continue to increase. (Bloomberg)


2011



Poor Losing out from Large Land Deals-Study (December 14, 2011)

A new study by the International Land Coalition (ILC) found that ineffective governance, corruption and weak rights for local landholders have fueled global land grabbing. Analyzing work from over 40 organizations, ILC found that large-scale land leases or purchases between 2000 and 2010 amounted to 200 million hectares, eight times the size of Britain. They study also found that an overwhelming majority of the land was acquired for biofuel production, not food.(AlertNet)

Land Deals "Threaten South Sudan's Development" (December 12, 2011)

In an effort to meet its development challenges, the government of South Sudan has allowed large-scale foreign investment in land in the hopes of economic profits and food security. In the years leading up to the January 2011 referendum on independence, over 5 million hectares of land had already been leased or bought by foreign investors for biofuels, agriculture and forestry. Land grabs are a means for foreign firms to advance their oil, gas and mining interests and “put development in reverse.” (IRIN)

The Big Challenge for a New Egypt: Water (December 7, 2011)

Egypt relies on the Nile for 90 percent of its water supply and uses 1/3 of the river’s water annually. Among Egyptians, there is little sympathy for the 9 upstream countries that also rely on the world’s longest river for water security. Following the overthrow of Mubarak, upstream nations threaten to boost their share of the Nile’s water, which may mean that Egypt will lose its “hegemonic” control over the river. (Guardian)

At the Nexus of Agrofuels, Land Grabs and Hunger - Part 1 (December 6, 2011)

According to new research by the Oakland Institute, the development of agrofuels and agroforests is stripping thousands of peasants off their land. The report states that US and EU-backed “green projects” and carbon trading will transfer wealth from landowning communities in South Sudan to transnational companies in the global North. (IPS)

The Dark Side of "Sustainable Investments" (December 3, 2011)

A study by Bread for all has found that an ethanol project in Sierra Leone by Swiss energy giant Addax will threaten the livelihoods and food security of the local population. Contrary to the Swiss company’s claims, the sugarcane-to-ethanol project uses highly coveted fertile land and water without consideration for downstream users. The 50 year lease from the government of Sierra Leone is vaguely worded and Bread for all worries that the agreement will prevent the local population from receiving justice before courts in Sierra Leone. (Brot für alle)

Farmers Mobilise to Find Solutions Against Land Grabbing (November 19, 2011)

More than 250 small farmers and representatives of farmers’ organizations from over 30 countries participated in the first International Farmers’ Conference to Stop Land Grabbing from November 17 to 20 in Southern Mali. Participants at the conference shared testimonials of local struggles and discussed solutions to the global land rush. The conference proposed replicating a program in Senegal that would monitor land grabbing cases and then alert journalists, NGOs and policy makers. (La Via Campesina)

Foreign Investment in Mali’s Arable Land Jumps by 60% (November 17, 2011)

Though only 5% of Mali is suitable for farming, foreign investors have bought or leased plots of land large enough to sustain over half a million small farmers, says a new report by Oakland Institute and the Malian National Farmers Organization. The report levels significant blame on the World Bank, which it says has incentivized land acquisition at the expense of smallholder farmers. (Guardian)

Dispossession and Displacement Fears Voiced at South Sudan’s Food-for-export Farming Deals (November 6, 2011)

Though South Sudan was formed in July 2011, foreign investors have already bought or leased over 9 percent of the country’s farmland. An Egyptian private equity fund Citadel Capital has agreed to pay the South Sudanese government $125,000 per-year for a 30-year lease for 259,500 acres of farmland. The company plans to immediately scale-up planting for chickpeas from a 1,500 acre trial to 130,000 acres in the next 5 years. Investors like Citadel Capital insist that they are helping the agriculture of the host country flourish, but critics argue that large foreign investors displace and jeopardize the food security of local small farmers. (Financial Times)

What Drives the Global Land Rush? (November 2011)

This International Monetary Fund working paper on land grabs suggests that investors are attracted to countries where there is weak land governance. These countries typically have large arable plots of land that are owned by small farmers who do not have access to technology. The paper calls for the immediate documentation of cross-national investments and advocates for the improvement of land governance. (IMF)

Africa Rising: Economic Progress vs. Cultural Preservation in Ethiopia (October 27, 2011)

In an effort to become one of the top ten global sugar exporters, the Ethiopian government has begun a project to build sugar plantations along the Lower Omo Valley, home to numerous tribes and semi-nomadic herders. Pastoralists have been arrested for protesting the plan, which will require them to resettle in permanent villages to make way for the sugar fields. Critics of the plan argue the government land grab will trample communities’ rights, destroy their livelihoods and parch World Heritage site Lake Turkana. (Christian Sciene Monitor)

Europe’s Global Land Demand (October 19, 2012)

Europe uses 640 million hectares of land a year, the equivalent of 1.5 times its own area in land. According to a new report, overconsumption in Europe is making the continent dependent on foreign land and this dependency is having massive social impacts, namely exacerbating land grabbing and land right violations. Although the European Commission has acknowledged the need to address Europe’s land consumption, it has not yet been specific about how this should be achieved. (Friends of the Earth Europe)

UN Body Delays Efforts to Regulate Land Grabs (October 17, 2011)

Following failure to reach consensus on large farmland investment, the U.N. Committee on Food Security (CFS) did not adopt international guidelines on land governance during negotiations which took place from October 17-21 (2011). The guidelines are part of a larger effort to regulate land grabs, which provide investors with profitable assets and jeopardize the food security of the host country. Targeted guidelines regulating land investments will benefit countries of the global South whose vulnerable smallholders have lost their livelihoods due to "responsible land investments" by actors predominantly from the global North. The CFS is set to resume negotiations in early 2012. (Reuters)

Karturi to Outsource Ethiopian Land to Indian Farmers (October 12, 2011)

Indian company Karturi Global, known for its cut flower exports, has leased 300,000 hectares of farmland in Western Ethiopia and plans to outsource 17 percent of the land to Indian farmers and agribusinesses. This new revenue-sharing scheme will give 35 percent of the new profits to Indian farmers and agribusinesses. This land grab is part of a larger trend of foreign investors taking land away from local small farmers. (Business Standard)

'India Once Colonised, Has Turned Into A Coloniser' (October 7, 2011)

This interview with Oakland Institute’s founder Anuradha Mittal discusses the trend of land grabbing by Indian investors in Africa.  Land grabbing is similar to twentieth century colonialism and Mittal warns that as a former British colony, India has a “responsibility to start a conversation about development that is not just about profiteering or corporations.” (Outlookindia.com)

Is Water the Hidden Agenda of Agricultural Land Acquisition in sub-Saharan Africa? (October 2011)

This Transnational Institute paper reviews the role of water in foreign land grabs. Irrigation is crucial to crop cultivation and according to this paper, there is a high risk that new large-scale commercial agricultural projects will negatively impact existing small producers in sub-Saharan Africa. Water remains on the margins of current debates, but as land grabbing expands exponentially, the implications of water grabbing cannot be ignored. (TNI)

Land and Power: The Growing Scandal Surrounding the New Wave of Investments in Land (September 22, 2011)

A new report from Oxfam has found that over 227 million hectares of land in developing countries—an area the size of Western Europe—has been leased or sold to foreign investors in the last ten years. Land deals have grown following the food crisis of 2008, and the trend is expected to increase. The report examines land grabs in Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, South Sudan, and Indonesia and calls the large-scale land acquisitions “development in reverse.” Investors disguise land grabs as responsible investment that supposedly provides food for hungry people. (Oxfam)

Ugandan Farmer: "My Land Gave Me Everything. Now I'm One of the Poorest." (September 22, 2011)

In 2010, the Ugandan government violently evicted over 20,000 small farmers and cut down their banana and cassava plantations to make way for the New Forests Company (NFC) which is partly owned by the UK-based HSBC. NFC maintains that it is a sustainable and socially responsible forestry company with licenses in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Rwanda, and considers the eviction a "peaceful and successful experience." It would like to use the model in Uganda “for controversial areas in the future.” (Guardian)

FAO Land-Deal Guidelines: Will They Have Teeth? (September 8, 2011)

This coming October (2011), during the 37th session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), UN member states will discuss proposed guidelines by FAO on governance of large-scale land deals. FAO’s guidelines have been developed in response to increased global land acquisition: in 2010 alone, there were land deals covering 56 million hectares. Even if the guidelines are adopted by member states, they will only “encourage transparency” and will not establish any legally binding obligations. FAO has already stated that these “voluntary” guidelines are not a reaction to land grabs or a defense against large-scale land purchases. (AlertNet)

Argentina Debates Foreign Land Buys (September 1, 2011)

Argentina’s President Christina Kirchner has put forth a bill to limit individual foreign investors from owning over 2,500 acres of land in Argentina. The draft proposal calls for the total amount of foreign ownership of Argentina’s farmland to be limited to 20% as well as the creation of a national land ownership registry. The bill does not specify the nature of land “ownership” and fails to address land leases, a loophole frequently used by private investors looking to acquire land for long-term food security purposes. In 2010, the Agrarian Development Ministry of Brazil made a similar move and limited foreign land speculation and acquisition. (Wall Street Journal)

A Battle is under Way for the Forests of Borneo (August 21, 2011)

Indonesia, and in particular the island of Borneo, is plagued by deforestation. Palm oil companies are dispossessing local inhabitants of their historic land and damaging the environment. This threatens indigenous population whose survival and way of life depend on the forest. This article points out the endemic corruption problems in Indonesia as officials illegally grant land to their supporters. (Npr.org)

Arable Land Deals Could be Bad for Food Security (August 9, 2011)

A report by Worldwatch Institute, looking at 25 sub-Saharan states, has found that some Western countries are purchasing large tracts of land in Africa for biofuel production. It also highlights how even when a country invests in farmland to grow food for consumption, the food is exported and the host nation is left to fend for itself. These land grabs have been promoted as "responsible agricultural investment" and encouraged by the World Bank Group and the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization. Rather than providing a solution to the food crisis by "tapping into a country's 'unused' agricultural potential, land grabs disrupt traditional land use" for Western profit, says Nourishing the Planet Director Danielle Nierenberg. (Nourishing the Planet)

India's Role in the New Global Farmland Grab (August 2011)

This report by GRAIN analyzes the role of 19 Indian companies involved in landgrabbing deals abroad. The Indian government is concerned with its long-term food and water security and has loosened regulations on Indian companies investing in overseas operations. Simultaneously, the Indian business sector is actively engaged in sending high-level trade delegations to developing nations that offer incentives to foreign investors, such as Ethiopia. The report considers the negative “ethical, political, human rights and environmental” consequences for peoples who are displaced by landgrabs. It also gives voice to activists fighting for small farmers rights and calls for a shift away from the current model of “large, corporate commercial” agriculture towards sustainable agriculture. (GRAIN)

“Land Grabs” in Agriculture: Fairer Deals Needed to Ensure Opportunity for Locals (July 26, 2011)

Critics of international land acquisitions believe land grabs do not represent the interests of the host country and jeopardize its food security. This article from Nourishing the Planet, a project of the Worldwatch Institute, makes recommendations for ensuring that global land deals are beneficial for local residents. Host countries must identify who owns the land—whether on paper or in practice— and foreign investors must receive consent from local residents before purchasing the land, protecting the rights of small-scale farmers, says Nourishing the Planet. Most importantly, local residents should have the opportunity to be involved with infrastructure development in their communities for it can create jobs and fuel local economies. Such considerations, if practiced, may improve prosperity and food security for foreign investors and small-scale farmers. (Nourishing the Planet)

Down on the Farm, Investors See Big Potential (July 16, 2011)

Computer executives, publishers, money managers and lawyers make up a new breed of “gentleman farmers” buying up the American heartland. With arable land shrinking and food prices soaring, investors view farmland as a tradable asset with the potential to deliver significant profits. Unlike traditional investments such as stocks, farmland is especially profitable because demand for food is steadily increasing due to a growing global population. Farmers who have spent their lives working the land are unable to compete with buyers who have no farming experience and no interest in dealing with food insecurity. Contrary to popular belief, land grabbing occurs around the world and not just in developing countries. (farmlandgrab.org)

World Bank Told to Stop Lending to Land Grabbers (July 6, 2011)

A group of fifteen civil society organizations issued an open letter to the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), condemning IFC’s partnership with the Argentinean firm Calyx Agro which has bought vast tracks of farmland in southern Latin America. Calyx Agro is looking to expand its farmland holdings in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and has asked the IFC for a loan of up to $30 million. The letter denounces the loan and points to the World Bank’s “blatant contradictions between the Bank’s stated mission of poverty elimination and sustained development, and its policies and lending practices.” If Calyx Agro is granted the loan, the company will be able to buy thousands of acres of farmland for wealthy foreign investors at the expense of small-scale farmers.  The significance of the World Bank’s involvement goes beyond finance as one of the world’s biggest multilateral institutions will be once again offering direct support to the global land rush. (farmlandgrab.org)

Meet the Millionaires and Billionaires Suddenly Buying Tons of Land in Africa (June 30, 2011)

A report by the Oakland Institute has found that foreign investors are acquiring vast tracks of land in Africa at very low costs. Governments in Africa are creating incentives to attract investment in farmland and investors, such as hedge fund managers, are taking over land that small-scale farmers have lived on for hundreds of years. Often, farmers are unaware of land deals and are displaced without any notice. This article gives some background on several wealthy investors who are partaking in the global land rush.  Investors include Count Miguel Pais do Amaral, businessman and amateur race car driver, Howard Eugene Douglas, former US Ambassador at Large and Coordinator for Refugee Affairs, Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure and the Libyan head of state Muammar Gaddafi. (Oakland Institute)

The New African Land Grab (June 30, 2011)

Since 2006, foreign investors have acquired millions of hectares of land from small-scale farmers in Africa, destroying family farms and robbing farmers of their livelihood. In order to control global food production, speculators, banks, and unregulated investors are focusing on the new “asset class” of African farmland. Though these investors are responsible for inflating food prices and creating the global hunger crisis, the World Bank has been promoting direct foreign investment in Africa and encouraging African nations to outdo one another by selling as much land as possible. (Al Jazeera)

Petition Calls for Halt to New ‘Land Grab’ in Africa (June 22, 2011)

A group of 500 NGOs delivered a petition to the G20 agricultural leaders calling for a stop to land grabbing. Increasingly foreign corporations and universities are buying up land under the guise of “responsible agricultural investment.” However, these practices are anything but “responsible.” Analysis of land contracts reveals that most deals provide few jobs and force thousands of people off the land. (Irish Times)

US Universities in Africa 'Land Grab' (June 8, 2011)

Recently some major American universities have begun investing in African land with the hopes of high returns, but are just contributing to land-grabbing. While representatives of these institutions claim their actions are “responsible”, critics worry that the deals will have damaging effects on jobs and food security in Africa. Universities’ emphasis on a high-return investment strategy is not as altruistic as investors may believe, and puts “dollars in the pockets of… foreign investors” while impeding progress for Africans. (Guardian)

African Land Grab Could Lead to Future Water Conflicts (May 26, 2011)

With food prices soaring and water being a finite resource, governments are looking to secure their food supply by leasing land abroad. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and India are leasing large plots of land in sub-Saharan Africa while cutting back on farming at home. This article suggests that although farming in parts of water-rich Africa might seem like a good tactic, it could lead to major problems for importing nations as their populations rise and water becomes increasingly scarce. (New Scientist)

Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears (April 6, 2011)

Every year, the percentage of crops being used for biofuels keeps increasing and developers continue to buy large plots of land from small-scale farmers. Many developed countries and some developing countries such as India and Indonesia are seeking new energy sources from crops such as corn and palm oil. With such a fast-growing market, farmers are tempted to grow more crops for fuel and less for food consumption. This new demand curve is contributing to rising food prices and pushing a record number of people into poverty and hunger. (The New York Times)

Agrarian Change Below the Radar Screen: Rising Farmland Acquisitions by Domestic Investors in West Africa (April 2011)

A new study by SNV and the Royal Tropical Institute analyzes the trend of land grabbing in West Africa, where domestic actors have developed a sudden interest in farming. High-level policy makers have begun to address foreign acquisition of rural lands as domestic investment in farmland is on the rise in Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Proponents of this trend claim that new investors will “modernize and professionalize farming,” but in practice land grabbing threatens the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and fails to produce food in an environmentally and socially sustainable way. (SNV World)

Responding to 'Land Grabbing" and Promoting Responsible Investment in Agriculture (March 2011)

This report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) contributes to the current debate on landgrabbing, which is an issue broader than just foreign acquisition of land in developing countries.  The report focuses on proposed principles and guidelines for promoting good land governance and “responsible investment” in agriculture. The author suggests that governments in developing countries as well as private-sector investors can play a positive role in supporting smallholder farmers. (International Fund for Agricultural Development)

Civil Society Organizations' Proposals for the FAO Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Land and Natural Resources (March 2011)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) raises awareness about the importance of good governance of land and the management of natural resources. In 2009 the FAO launched an initiative on Voluntary Guidelines for the Governance of Land and other Natural Resources Tenure. Many consultations were held to identify good practices and possible solutions. As a result of this initiative, governments, civil society and international organizations share agreements made on a range of issues, including collective rights over resources, regulation of investments and human rights violations related to land use. (FIAN International)

Ethiopia at Centre of Global Farmland Rush (March 21, 2011)

According to the Ethiopian government, thirty-six countries including India, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have leased farm land in the Gambella region for long periods at low rates. Karuturi, one of the largest international agribusiness companies, will export sugar, palm oil, rice and other foods to world markets. Land grabs like this deprive local farmers and villagers of access to land and displace entire villages. Local government officers denied claims that people are forcibly moved to make way for foreign companies.  (Guardian)

Changing Perspectives: Small-Scale Farmers, Markets and Globalization (February 2011)

Global food security and agriculture are key issues on the international development agenda. Producer organizations, governments and international organizations all have different ideas on how to make global and regional markets work better for developing countries. This paper looks at the debate about small-scale farmers and their relationship to globalization and globalized markets. (Knowledge and Change Dialogue)

Hunger & Food Security: Is Africa Selling the Farm? (February 6, 2011)

Africa's fertile land is drawing large foreign corporations and governments in order to grow crops for food and biofuels. Foreign investment in African agriculture does not help the continent become food self-sufficient, but rather these deals - known as "landgrabbing" - threaten Africans ability to feed themselves. According to World Bank estimates, 115 million acres of land are leased to foreign investors worldwide, the bulk of which is in Africa. After a revolt in 2009, the people of Madagascar drove out foreign investors, however it seems as though other African countries remain open to foreign investment over food security. (The Christain Science Monitor)

Massive UN-Supported African Palm Plantations Leading to Oppression, Kidnapping and Murder (February 4, 2011)

The Arguan Valley in Honduras is a rich agricultural center with numerous African palm plantations. Many of the palm tree farms are receiving subsidies from the UN and other international organizations, as they theoretically reduce carbon emissions. Violent clashes between peasant organizations and the landowning companies in the valley have been escalating recently as they compete for the land. (AlterNet)

Land Degradation Causes $10 Billion Loss to South Asia Annually

South Asian countries lose billions of dollars due to soil erosion and other forms of land degradation. When land is degraded there can be serious effects such as erosion, loss of soil fertility, reduced crop yields, flooding and water shortages. Present and future generations suffer losses of agricultural productivity, the cost of replacing soil nutrients and the cost of land reclamation and restoration. Additionally, underlying causes of degradation include inappropriate land tenure agreements, economic pressures on farmers and population growth.(Third World Network)

2010



Regulating Landgrabbing? (December, 2010)

Landgrabbing describes the increase in transnational commercial land transactions, now misunderstood as acceptable large-scale land investments. Poor rural populations do not benefit and often do not receive new technologies, nor do they have access to basic services. There are significant harmful environmental impacts, violation of peoples' land rights and violent conflicts over land. This article analyses the theories and flawed reasoning of "responsible landgrabbing" advocates, and it examines the codes of conduct and guidelines attended to commercial land transactions. (Pambazuka)

African Farmers Displaced as Investors Move In (December 15, 2010)

In much of the developing world, foreign interests are taking over large expanses of arable land from poor rural farmers. Hedge funds, agro-companies and governments are involved. These land grabs destroy villages, uproot farmers, and leave poor people landless. Wealthier nations will consume much of the produce from the land, resulting in major migration and wider hunger. (New York Times)

Slow Progress on Land Grabbing Regulation (November 29, 2010)

Wealthy investors are buying land in developing countries, and there is much disagreement over how to regulate transactions. Current economic uncertainty and increasing food price volatility are causing rich countries to become land-buyers in order to ensure their own food security. Such deals negatively impact small farmers and indigenous people who are often evicted from their land. Agricultural investments should promote sustainable development and long-term benefits to local communities rather than profit large companies and land speculators or foreign countries. (IRIN)

Land Grabs in Poor Countries Set to Increase (September 8, 2010)

Like a game of Monopoly, countries like South Korea, China and the Gulf States want to secure their own food assets through buying up large pieces of land in poor countries like Sudan, Nigeria and Namibia. Especially countries with weak governance attract the investors' interest. Consequently, land grabbing poses a major threat to local livelihoods and also to sustainable development. International regulation is needed to help poor countries (re-)gain self sufficiency and to prevent more land being colonized. (IPS)

Innovations in Access to Land: Land Grab or Agricultural Investment? (August 5, 2010)

The World Bank and the FAO support foreign buying or renting of land in developing countries, claiming it prompts investment in local infrastructure and agricultural resources. By contrast, many farmers' groups and NGOs say that the land deals are exploitative "land grabs" that will damage sustainable agricultural production. Mounting evidence suggests that food sovereignty, food security as well as land and water rights are all under threat as a result of these massive foreign land acquisitions. (Huffington Post)

The Emerging Politics of Food Scarcity (July 14, 2010)

Foreign land acquisition worsens global food scarcity. This author explains how bilateral land deals between governments are fuelling inequality and are displacing farmers. Most often, land is sold or leased by low-income countries where malnutrition and hunger are chronic, to buyers from countries that have exceeded their own land and water resources. While the article does not address the large role of the private sector and financial sector in foreign land acquisition, it explains how the phenomenon is shaping "a new politics of food scarcity." (Earth Policy Institute)

Brazil Government Plans to Limit Foreign Land Purchases (June 23, 2010)

Foreigners have invested $2.34 billion in agricultural land in Brazil and now the government wants to restrict foreign ownership. The Agrarian Development Ministry says that in order to attain food security, farm land and food production must be in the hands of Brazilians. The new legislation will likely be met by strong opposition from foreign governments, hedge funds and operating companies that have been speculating in land in the recent past. (Associated Press)

African Land Grab Not a Cure for Arab Food Concerns (April 7, 2010)

Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat, and in a region (North Africa and the Middle East) where desertification is steadily reducing arable land, its government is increasingly looking elsewhere in Africa for agricultural production. Egyptian researchers, however, say that investment in African farmland is not enough to enhance food security, and may exacerbate conflicts over land and resources. Investment in "land grabbing" may divert financing away from necessary focus on environmental management and desertification research. (GRAIN)

Stop Land Grabbing Immediately! (April, 2010)

The World Bank is promoting principles for  "responsible land acquisition."  In a recent report, the Bank acknowledges that vast tracts of agricultural land in low income countries are being swallowed up by foreign investors. Despite the risks of such investments to global food security, the Bank's proposed rules are likely to legitimize the alienation of land from small producers, not block it.   In response, FIAN and La Via Campesina have written an open letter opposing the Bank's plan and calling on Governors of the Bank to reject this approach.

Deals Can be Good News When Not Made Behind Closed Doors (March 7, 2010)

Rich countries are leasing land in Africa for agricultural purposes and biofuel production. Critics call this the "land grab." Lorenzo Cortula, of the International Institute for Environmental and Development, says that blanket judgments about the agricultural investments are misleading. Reports suggest deals will lead to increased poverty and hunger.  But Cotula argues that land deals are not always detrimental and that some open deals, based on strategic thinking, vigorous debate, and partnership with small holders could be advantageous to small scale African farmers.(The Observer)

How Food and Water are Driving a 21st Century Land Grab (March 7, 2010)

Food, water and energy supplies are increasingly unreliable. In response, rich countries are buying "unused" African land to guarantee food production.  In Africa, an area double the size of the UK has been bought by foreign investors. International agribusinesses, investment banks, governments and hedge funds all emphasize the potential benefits of these deals. However large-scale land sales present an immense risk to people and nature. Forced dispossession of people from the land is likely to increase hunger, poverty, emigration and conflict. In addition the intensive use of chemicals, and heavy water use for irrigation, is likely to have a detrimental effect on land productivity in the future. (The Observer)

EU Biofuels Significantly Harming Food Production in Developing Countries (February 15, 2010)

EU companies have leased millions of acres of land in Africa, Central American and Asia to produce biofuels for transport. The EU aims to obtain 10% of all transport fuels from biofuel. Experts fear the EU biofuel targets will directly increase hunger levels and food prices, as land that would be used for local food production is taken over for biofuel crops.(The Observer)

La Via Campesina: The Evolution of a Transational Movement (February 8, 2010)

La Via Campesina is a leading international movements that opposes corporate domination of food production. The movement presents food sovereignty as the solution to the food crisis. Food sovereignty promotes the right of small scale farmers to decide how food is produced and distributed. This article explains the main principles behind the food sovereignty movement by examining the historical context of  la Via Campesina. (Share The World's Resources)

2009

NGO Rome Declaration on Food Security (November 17, 2009)

This joint declaration by 450 organizations from over 90 countries promotes food sovereignty as the solution to world hunger.  The report condemns the current food production system, controlled by large scale agricultural industries. The system, they say, must be reformed -- to allow communities control over their resources, to promote small scale farming, and to strengthen rural-urban food webs.

Is There Such a Thing as Agro-Imperialism? (November 22, 2009)

The food crisis has created a strange new market for arable land. Rich nations in the Middle East and Asia are buying farmland around the world especially in Africa in order to satisfy their future food needs. Although local people are suffering from food shortages and facing famine, sale of their croplands continues at a brisk pace. (New York Times)

BP Faces Damages Claim over Pipeline through Colombian Farmland (November 11, 2009)

Colombian farmers have sued BP, one of the world's biggest oil companies. BP built a 450-mile (720km) pipeline through the country, which has caused severe harm to the soil and groundwater system. Environmental damages threaten the livelihood of many farmers, who now are claiming legal compensation. BP has not agreed to a settlement and the firm is fighting the case in UK courts, where the farmers are at a big disadvantage. (Guardian)

The Great Land Grab: Rush for World's Farmland Threatens Food Security for the Poor (October 2009)

The Oakland Institute has released a new report on the underestimated role of international financial institutions in the massive speculative buyout of farmland known as the "land grab." These institutions fund and promote investments in the agricultural sector at the expense of food security in poor and underdeveloped countries. (The Oakland Institute)

The New Landlords (September 26, 2009)

Transnational agro corporations reshape the world map and affect geopolitical strategies through massive land acquisition. The Indian company Karuturi Global Ltd. is an overlooked player in this business, according to a new UNCTAD report. As one of the top 25 agri-business companies, it buys enormous blocs of farmland in Africa and Latin America in order to cultivate flowers, sugarcane, staples, coffee and palm oil. Since the food crisis, the land grab has become an even more important investment strategy. Countries have also started to buy up foreign agricultural land, which is leading to displacement, hunger and environmental damage. (The Times of India)

Foreign Investors Snap Up African Farmland (July 30, 2009)

Governments and investment funds are buying up farmland in Africa and Asia to grow food. The buying of land often removes the only source for food and income for the domestic population. With growing global population and rapidly rising prices, land grabbing is a profitable business.   The investors see how the combination of more people and less land makes food a safe investment, with high annual returns. They disregard the disastrous effects for the populations concerned. (Spiegel Online)

Europe's Overseas Push into Biofuels (May 13, 2009)

The global food and fuel crisis are leading to an alarming development of land grab, especially on the African continent. European companies from the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark are buying huge areas of land to grow biofuels to the detriment of local farmers and local food production. Furthermore, emerging nations like China, India and oil-rich Gulf states obtain land to secure their own food supply at the cost of local food security. This article warns that political unrest will result from the combined effects of food insecurity and forced displacement of smallholder farmers. (Business Week)

US Investor Buys Sudanese Warlord's Land (January 2009)

Phillippe Heilberg's purchase of 400, 000 hectares of land in Southern Sudan displays a new form of colonialism in Africa and a second wave in the scramble for resources. The former Wall Street banker, who has strong connections with the CIA told the Financial Times that he dealt directly with Sudanese warlords. He speculates on the break-up of several African countries. (Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum)
Corporations and private investors are leading today's worldwide grab of agricultural land. While governments may be involved in some deals, private companies are getting control of the land. GRAIN analyzes here the role of finance capital and it identifies key private sector investors. GRAIN provides a valuable table outlining over 120 cases of land grabbing by private companies. The information provides a valuable sample of the deals and firms that use vital resources to enhance their investment portfolios. (GRAIN)

2008

Rich Countries Launch Great Land Grab to Safeguard Food Supply (November 22, 2008)

Rich governments and corporations are buying more and more agricultural land in developing countries to secure their own long-term food supplies. This could result in workers of poor countries producing food for the rich, while going hungry themselves. Further, industrial food companies deprive small farmers of their livelihood. (Guardian)

Seized: The 2008 Land Grab for Food and Financial Security (October 2008)

The global financial crisis is prompting investors to seek new sources of profit. Many are buying cheap agricultural land in developing countries to make a profit from the soaring food prices. But privatization of land threatens small-scale farming and food security in the world's poor countries, as fertile land concentrates into the hands of a few private companies. (GRAIN)

Hoarding Nations Drive Food Costs Ever Higher (June 30, 2008)

Conventional economists argue that everyone will benefit if countries specialize in producing a few different food commodities and import the rest. But without any protection of the domestic market, farmers in poorer countries must compete with commodities subsidized by richer countries. As over 29 countries have restricted food exports to ensure that their people have enough to eat, the import-dependent countries have even less access to food. A group of food-importing countries is promoting an agreement in the Doha Development Round to prevent countries from unilaterally restricting exports. (New York Times)

The World Food Summit: A Lost Opportunity (June 10, 2008)

The World Food Summit declaration neglects to address the root causes of global food insecurity. World leaders failed to reach a solution on biofuel production, even though the International Food Policy Research Institute calculated that "production of biofuel is responsible for 30% of the rise in food prices." Furthermore, the declaration urged governments to reduce trade restrictions, even though trade liberalization is one of the main causes of the food crisis. (OpenDemocracy)

Manufacturing a Food Crisis (June 2, 2008)

The 2008 global food crisis demonstrates the destructiveness of the "one-two punch of IMF-imposed adjustment and WTO-imposed trade liberalization." These policies have steadily marginalized farmers, and transformed self-sufficient agricultural economies into vulnerable, import-dependent ones. Large industrial farms and grain-trading corporations control the global food market. However, poor countries increasingly defy World Bank, IMF and WTO policies - with fruitful results - and farmer's movements such as the Via Campesina are gaining in influence. (The Nation)

Destroying African Agriculture (June 3, 2008)

This Foreign Policy In Focus article argues that the shift of countries from net-exporters to net-importers of food caused the global food crisis. The author criticizes the IMF and World Bank's structural adjustment programs that lowered countries' investments and social spending. Several poor countries dedicated land for export crops to service their debt to the World Bank and IMF. As a result, food production has declined and food insecurity has grown. For example, from 1966-70, Africa exported an average 1.3 million tons of food a year but almost all African countries are now net food importers.

Why It's All About Land (April 17, 2008)

Multilateral lending organizations, aid agencies and NGOs have avoided addressing the politically sensitive topic of land inequalities in Africa. Explanations for conflicts around land have focused on Africa's lack of economic development. Rather, aid agencies should understand that, in the absence of social safety nets, land is the only asset which people can turn to for financial security. (Newstatesman)

Siezed! The 2008 Land Grab for Food and Financial Security (October 2008)

This GRAIN publication released in 2008 reports how fertile agricultural land is increasingly being taken from small producers and falling into the hands of large interests. "Food insecure" governments that rely on imports to feed their people are snatching up vast areas of farmland abroad for their own offshore food production, while corporations and private investors see investment in foreign farmland as an important new source of profits.  If left unchecked, this global land grab could spell the end of small-scale farming. (GRAIN)


 
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