Barbarians at the barn: private equity sinks its teeth into agriculture

Financial flows going into agriculture are growing more and more institutionalised – and more and more private. To be sure, investing in agriculture has been going on since time immemorial. After all, farmers do it every day as they improve their soils, set up cooperatives, share knowledge with their children and develop local markets. But since the mid 2000s, institutional investment in agriculture has started growing. From seven agriculture-focused funds in 2004 to more than 300 today, the interest in capturing profits from farming and agribusiness on a global scale is real – and Covid-19 is not slowing things down.

Financial flows going into agriculture are growing more and more institutionalised – and more and more private. To be sure, investing in agriculture has been going on since time immemorial. After all, farmers do it every day as they improve their soils, set up cooperatives, share knowledge with their children and develop local markets. But since the mid 2000s, institutional investment in agriculture has started growing. From seven agriculture-focused funds in 2004 to more than 300 today, the interest in capturing profits from farming and agribusiness on a global scale is real – and Covid-19 is not slowing things down.

To care for our seeds

A set of booklets that can help us understand what is behind the resolve to instate intellectual property and the privatization of seeds through pacts, conventions, agreements, laws, standards, norms, registries, and certifications; why so much effort is invested in pushing aside what has been humanity’s fundamental task for thousands of years.

A set of booklets that can help us understand what is behind the resolve to instate intellectual property and the privatization of seeds through pacts, conventions, agreements, laws, standards, norms, registries, and certifications; why so much effort is invested in pushing aside what has been humanity’s fundamental task for thousands of years.

Digital fences: the financial enclosure of farmlands in South America

In all the countries studied in this report, the georeferenced cadastres became a requirement both for the land regularisation process and to access other public and credit policies in the financial system for rural properties. This trend to digitise land governance and the natural resources linked to it, is being reinforced by the World Bank: it has allocated USD 45.5 million for the registration of the Brazilian Cerrado’s private rural properties in the rural environmental cadastre and has also assigned USD 100 million to the multi-purpose cadastre in Colombia.

In all the countries studied in this report, the georeferenced cadastres became a requirement both for the land regularisation process and to access other public and credit policies in the financial system for rural properties. This trend to digitise land governance and the natural resources linked to it, is being reinforced by the World Bank: it has allocated USD 45.5 million for the registration of the Brazilian Cerrado’s private rural properties in the rural environmental cadastre and has also assigned USD 100 million to the multi-purpose cadastre in Colombia.

Trade deals handing Japanese seeds to multinational corporations

Farmers, civil society and prominent figures in Japan have succeeded in temporarily postponing the amendment of the PVP Act, a major attempt against the public management of seeds. But what lies behind these efforts to amend the PVP Act? And is stopping the revision of the PVP Act enough?

Farmers, civil society and prominent figures in Japan have succeeded in temporarily postponing the amendment of the PVP Act, a major attempt against the public management of seeds. But what lies behind these efforts to amend the PVP Act? And is stopping the revision of the PVP Act enough?

Between free trade and local markets: Thailand's attempt to enter CPTPP negotiations meets opposition again

In this time of Covid-19, free trade negotiations have not subsided, and are even increasing. In Thailand the government is trying again to join the Trans-Pacific trade agreement, CPTPP. But opposition continues, with increasing demand for fresh, small-scale farm produce and a diversified food system based on local markets. This edition of the Supermarket watch bulletin also includes articles that highlight long term economic impacts and opportunities that Covid-19 creates for street vendors.

In this time of Covid-19, free trade negotiations have not subsided, and are even increasing. In Thailand the government is trying again to join the Trans-Pacific trade agreement, CPTPP. But opposition continues, with increasing demand for fresh, small-scale farm produce and a diversified food system based on local markets. This edition of the Supermarket watch bulletin also includes articles that highlight long term economic impacts and opportunities that Covid-19 creates for street vendors.

Land grabs at gunpoint: Thousands of families are being violently evicted from their farms to make way for foreign-owned plantations in Kiryandongo, Uganda

Three multinational companies – Agilis Partners, Kiryandongo Sugar Limited and Great Season SMC Limited – are involved in grabbing land, violently evicting people from their homes and causing untold humiliation and grief to thousands of farming families residing in Kiryandongo district, Uganda. The land grabs are happening on abandoned national ranches, which have long since been settled and farmed by people who came to the area fleeing war and natural calamities in neighbouring areas. The local people are being displaced without notice, alternatives or even negotiations and are now desperately trying to save their homes and lives.

Three multinational companies – Agilis Partners, Kiryandongo Sugar Limited and Great Season SMC Limited – are involved in grabbing land, violently evicting people from their homes and causing untold humiliation and grief to thousands of farming families residing in Kiryandongo district, Uganda. The land grabs are happening on abandoned national ranches, which have long since been settled and farmed by people who came to the area fleeing war and natural calamities in neighbouring areas. The local people are being displaced without notice, alternatives or even negotiations and are now desperately trying to save their homes and lives.

What do FTAs mean for African women? A critical look into the African Continental Free Trade Area

The recently ratified African Continental Free Trade Area looms over Africa. Hailed by some as a major milestone of African unity and independence, the ambitions behind the push of this deal by African governments unfortunately reveal a rather corporate agenda that disregards the concerns, livelihoods and aspirations of the continent’s citizens, especially women's.

The recently ratified African Continental Free Trade Area looms over Africa. Hailed by some as a major milestone of African unity and independence, the ambitions behind the push of this deal by African governments unfortunately reveal a rather corporate agenda that disregards the concerns, livelihoods and aspirations of the continent’s citizens, especially women's.

Perils of the US-India free trade agreement for Indian farmers

No one had imagined that the key concerns which made India pull out of RCEP, would be swept aside as the government negotiates yet another disastrous trade deal, this time with the United States. The US-India FTA poses much bigger challenges for India’s rural communities and agriculture sector. It would greatly compromise India’s huge biodiversity, undermine progress in building strong local farming systems and destroy India’s hope for food sovereignty.

No one had imagined that the key concerns which made India pull out of RCEP, would be swept aside as the government negotiates yet another disastrous trade deal, this time with the United States. The US-India FTA poses much bigger challenges for India’s rural communities and agriculture sector. It would greatly compromise India’s huge biodiversity, undermine progress in building strong local farming systems and destroy India’s hope for food sovereignty.

Food retail in times of Covid-19

The first wave of lockdown measures that governments applied triggered panic buying of food, as people, fearing possible shortages, filled up their kitchens and pantries with food supplies to last several weeks. As the restrictions on movement became tighter and as the lockdowns continued, people began to turn more and more to e-retailers for their food purchases.

The first wave of lockdown measures that governments applied triggered panic buying of food, as people, fearing possible shortages, filled up their kitchens and pantries with food supplies to last several weeks. As the restrictions on movement became tighter and as the lockdowns continued, people began to turn more and more to e-retailers for their food purchases.

Millions forced to choose between hunger or Covid-19

The only question that matters now is how to ensure everyone has access to food while keeping people safe and healthy at every step from farm to consumer. Unfortunately, this has not been the priority that has shaped food systems over the past decades. But getting there is not as complicated as it may appear.

The only question that matters now is how to ensure everyone has access to food while keeping people safe and healthy at every step from farm to consumer. Unfortunately, this has not been the priority that has shaped food systems over the past decades. But getting there is not as complicated as it may appear.

Harvard's land grabs in Brazil are a disaster for communities and a warning to speculators

In an eight year period following the 2008 crisis, Harvard poured over US$1 billion into amassing a global portfolio of farmlands, covering nearly 1 million hectares across five continents. Harvard's farmland strategy took it deep into some of the most conflictual places on the planet when it comes to land and the environment.

In an eight year period following the 2008 crisis, Harvard poured over US$1 billion into amassing a global portfolio of farmlands, covering nearly 1 million hectares across five continents. Harvard's farmland strategy took it deep into some of the most conflictual places on the planet when it comes to land and the environment.

Profits above all: world's largest pork company propagates global pandemics

The WH Group, the world’s largest pork company and owner of Smithfield Foods, is at the centre of two ongoing global pandemics. Its meat plant in the US, where workers have been protesting unsafe conditions, has become one of the largest clusters of Covid-19 in the country. Meanwhile, the company’s farms and slaughterhouses in China and Europe have played key roles in expanding a global outbreak of African swine fever that has already killed over a quarter of the world’s pig population.

The WH Group, the world’s largest pork company and owner of Smithfield Foods, is at the centre of two ongoing global pandemics. Its meat plant in the US, where workers have been protesting unsafe conditions, has become one of the largest clusters of Covid-19 in the country. Meanwhile, the company’s farms and slaughterhouses in China and Europe have played key roles in expanding a global outbreak of African swine fever that has already killed over a quarter of the world’s pig population.

GRAIN's 2019 activity report

As we explore other ways of connecting and organising with partners in this climate of great uncertainty, we would like to share our 2019 activity report. Small dairy farmers pushing back trade deals, communities resisting land grabs by oil palm plantations and the fight to preserve peasants' seeds are just some of last year's highlights, ushering in another round of struggles in 2020 and for the years to come.

As we explore other ways of connecting and organising with partners in this climate of great uncertainty, we would like to share our 2019 activity report. Small dairy farmers pushing back trade deals, communities resisting land grabs by oil palm plantations and the fight to preserve peasants' seeds are just some of last year's highlights, ushering in another round of struggles in 2020 and for the years to come.

New research suggests industrial livestock, not wet markets, might be origin of Covid-19

Let’s be clear: there is no solid evidence that the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the cause of the current Covid-19 disease pandemic, is an open seafood market in Wuhan that also trades in domestic and wild animals. All that we know is that several early cases of people diagnosed with Covid-19 either worked at this market or shopped there in the days preceding their diagnosis.

Let’s be clear: there is no solid evidence that the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the cause of the current Covid-19 disease pandemic, is an open seafood market in Wuhan that also trades in domestic and wild animals. All that we know is that several early cases of people diagnosed with Covid-19 either worked at this market or shopped there in the days preceding their diagnosis.