Land

While land grabbing has been going on since ages, today's massive assault on fertile farmland by investors, speculators and food and biofuel corporations is something big and new. Over the past ten years, ever since GRAIN first exposed the issue and put it on the global agenda, land grabbing has become one of our most active areas of work. 

GRAIN's contribution takes the form of research, information and outreach work. We also support the struggles of different civil society organisations against corporate land deals, especially in Asia and Africa. We do so mainly through capacity building, strategy development and alliance building together with partners that aim to turn the tide. 

Rural communities in Brazil pay the price for Harvard's billion-dollar spending spree on global farmland, says new report

An investigative report by GRAIN and the Brazilian Network for Social Justice and Human Rights (“Rede Social”) shows how Harvard University’s endowment fund used an opaque corporate structure to acquire control of an estimated 850,000 hectares (ha) of farmland across five continents during the past 10 years. The report details how Harvard's farmland deals are connected to multiple conflicts over land and water, including instances of land grabbing in Brazil.  

An investigative report by GRAIN and the Brazilian Network for Social Justice and Human Rights (“Rede Social”) shows how Harvard University’s endowment fund used an opaque corporate structure to acquire control of an estimated 850,000 hectares (ha) of farmland across five continents during the past 10 years. The report details how Harvard's farmland deals are connected to multiple conflicts over land and water, including instances of land grabbing in Brazil.  

Harvard's billion-dollar farmland fiasco

One of the world's major buyers of farmland is under fire for their involvement in land conflicts, environmental destruction and risky investments. A new report by GRAIN and Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos presents, for the first time, a comprehensive analysis of Harvard University's controversial investments in global farmland.

One of the world's major buyers of farmland is under fire for their involvement in land conflicts, environmental destruction and risky investments. A new report by GRAIN and Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos presents, for the first time, a comprehensive analysis of Harvard University's controversial investments in global farmland.

Failed farmland deals: A growing legacy of disaster and pain

2017 went down as one of the deadliest years ever for land defenders. It was also a pretty bad year for several land grabbers. A significant number of big farmland deals collapsed, adding to a growing list of projects that have backfired over the past few years. While this is good news for affected communities, many of them are now left dealing with the fall-out and still struggling to get their lands back. We may have made some gains in stopping the projects, but have urgent work to do to address what happens when they fail.  

2017 went down as one of the deadliest years ever for land defenders. It was also a pretty bad year for several land grabbers. A significant number of big farmland deals collapsed, adding to a growing list of projects that have backfired over the past few years. While this is good news for affected communities, many of them are now left dealing with the fall-out and still struggling to get their lands back. We may have made some gains in stopping the projects, but have urgent work to do to address what happens when they fail.  

SOCFIN: Profits on the rise, but not for local communities

NGOs and solidarity organisations supporting the struggles of affected local communities assess the problems caused, and promises unkept, by the SOCFIN group, as shareholders meet for the rubber and oil palm giant’s AGM on 30 May.  

NGOs and solidarity organisations supporting the struggles of affected local communities assess the problems caused, and promises unkept, by the SOCFIN group, as shareholders meet for the rubber and oil palm giant’s AGM on 30 May.  

Land conflict in Côte d'Ivoire: local communities defend their rights against SIAT and the state

It all started one morning in August 2011 when three village communities in eastern-central Côte d’Ivoire learned that a Belgian corporation called SIAT was about to move onto their land. Not long afterward, an agribusiness firm started putting in a rubber monoculture on 11,000 ha that the communities had neither sold nor ceded and that SIAT was not entitled to exploit.

It all started one morning in August 2011 when three village communities in eastern-central Côte d’Ivoire learned that a Belgian corporation called SIAT was about to move onto their land. Not long afterward, an agribusiness firm started putting in a rubber monoculture on 11,000 ha that the communities had neither sold nor ceded and that SIAT was not entitled to exploit.

Turono Karuturi (“Bye-bye Karuturi” in Anuak)

Land activists around the world celebrated the news of the collapse of one of the world’s biggest land grabs: the Indian company Karuturi Global Ltd’s 300,000 hectare farmland deal in Ethiopia. CEO Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi claimed he would bring food security to the horn of Africa while boasting he would soon join the ranks of the world’s biggest food producers.

Land activists around the world celebrated the news of the collapse of one of the world’s biggest land grabs: the Indian company Karuturi Global Ltd’s 300,000 hectare farmland deal in Ethiopia. CEO Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi claimed he would bring food security to the horn of Africa while boasting he would soon join the ranks of the world’s biggest food producers.

The seed of despair: communities lose their land and water sources due to OLAM’s agribusiness in Gabon

“In these supposedly win-win contracts, I would like to know what our communities are gaining. On the contrary, we are losing and even dying a slow death.” With this cry of despair, Célestine Ndong describes the bitter situation in Mouilla, Gabon, where the GRAINE [“seed” in French] program has been underway for several years.

“In these supposedly win-win contracts, I would like to know what our communities are gaining. On the contrary, we are losing and even dying a slow death.” With this cry of despair, Célestine Ndong describes the bitter situation in Mouilla, Gabon, where the GRAINE [“seed” in French] program has been underway for several years.

Cambodia: communities in protracted struggle against Chinese sugar companies’ land grab

A new joint report from Community Network in Action (CNA), Ponlok Khmer, GRAIN, Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA), and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) exposes the devastating consequences of land grabs for indigenous communities in Preah Vihear province, northern Cambodia. 

A new joint report from Community Network in Action (CNA), Ponlok Khmer, GRAIN, Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA), and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) exposes the devastating consequences of land grabs for indigenous communities in Preah Vihear province, northern Cambodia. 

Cambodia: communities in protracted struggle against Chinese sugar companies’ land grab

A new report exposes the devastating consequences of land grabs for indigenous communities in Preah Vihear province, in northern Cambodia. The report reveals how Chinese companies, attracted by the Cambodian government to invest in local agro-industry, have been violating the fundamental rights of communities and destroying livelihoods and ecosystems over the past six years. The report is a joint collaboration between Community Network in Action (CNA), Ponlok Khmer, GRAIN, Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA), and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP).

A new report exposes the devastating consequences of land grabs for indigenous communities in Preah Vihear province, in northern Cambodia. The report reveals how Chinese companies, attracted by the Cambodian government to invest in local agro-industry, have been violating the fundamental rights of communities and destroying livelihoods and ecosystems over the past six years. The report is a joint collaboration between Community Network in Action (CNA), Ponlok Khmer, GRAIN, Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA), and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP).

Pressure on at Bolloré's 2017 annual general meeting

The struggle to resolve conflicts around land deals continues. Yesterday it was at Socfin’s general assembly in Luxembourg, and today it was at Bolloré’s in Paris.

The struggle to resolve conflicts around land deals continues. Yesterday it was at Socfin’s general assembly in Luxembourg, and today it was at Bolloré’s in Paris.

Pension funds fuel land grabs in Brazil

Around the world, farmers are losing their lands, often violently, to large companies and speculators who see farmland as a lucrative investment. But what are the complex mechanisms behind these processes? Could your pension fund be contributing to land grabbing in places like Brazil? This animated video shows how a global farmland fund, managed by US financial giant TIAA-CREF, used a complex company structure to avoid restrictions on foreign investment in farmland in Brazil. It then acquired lands from a Brazilian businessman who has used violence and fraud to grab large areas of farmland from small farmers and indigenous peoples.

Around the world, farmers are losing their lands, often violently, to large companies and speculators who see farmland as a lucrative investment. But what are the complex mechanisms behind these processes? Could your pension fund be contributing to land grabbing in places like Brazil? This animated video shows how a global farmland fund, managed by US financial giant TIAA-CREF, used a complex company structure to avoid restrictions on foreign investment in farmland in Brazil. It then acquired lands from a Brazilian businessman who has used violence and fraud to grab large areas of farmland from small farmers and indigenous peoples.

Land conflicts and shady finances plague DR Congo palm oil company backed by development funds

European and US development funds are bankrolling palm oil company Feronia Inc despite land and labour conflicts at its plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). New information now raises questions as to whether the Canadian-based company misused millions of taxpayer dollars destined for international aid by way of companies connected to a high-level DRC politician.

European and US development funds are bankrolling palm oil company Feronia Inc despite land and labour conflicts at its plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). New information now raises questions as to whether the Canadian-based company misused millions of taxpayer dollars destined for international aid by way of companies connected to a high-level DRC politician.

Land for the women who work it: struggles in Latin America

Lack of access to land is one of the most serious problems facing rural women in Latin America and around the world—and is the cause of numerous other problems that are often “invisible” for society at large. Its consequences affect women everywhere, humanity in general and the planet. This issue of Against the grain explores the conditions of oppression and exclusion that rural women experience throughout Latin America and the impacts of patriarchy including the gendered division of labour, the invisibilisation of women’s work and the exploitation of both women and men. The piece also addresses women’s ongoing struggle for the right to land at a time when the role of women is increasingly recognised as central to the reproduction of peasant agriculture and to solving the problem of global hunger.      

Lack of access to land is one of the most serious problems facing rural women in Latin America and around the world—and is the cause of numerous other problems that are often “invisible” for society at large. Its consequences affect women everywhere, humanity in general and the planet. This issue of Against the grain explores the conditions of oppression and exclusion that rural women experience throughout Latin America and the impacts of patriarchy including the gendered division of labour, the invisibilisation of women’s work and the exploitation of both women and men. The piece also addresses women’s ongoing struggle for the right to land at a time when the role of women is increasingly recognised as central to the reproduction of peasant agriculture and to solving the problem of global hunger.      

Court rules that Brazilian businessman who sold lands to TIAA-CREF acquired lands illegally

A Brazilian businessman involved in the acquisition of farmland by US, Canadian, German and Swedish pension funds could face criminal charges for land grabbing. The Agrarian Prosecutor for the Court of the Brazilian state of Piauí has issued an order for the cancellation of 124,400 ha of lands illegally acquired by businessman Euclides De Carli. The decision was issued on 5 July 2016, by state prosecutor Francisco Santiago, citing land grabbing (“grilagem”) and the illegal use of lands assigned to agrarian reform. The prosecution is now considering filing criminal charges.

A Brazilian businessman involved in the acquisition of farmland by US, Canadian, German and Swedish pension funds could face criminal charges for land grabbing. The Agrarian Prosecutor for the Court of the Brazilian state of Piauí has issued an order for the cancellation of 124,400 ha of lands illegally acquired by businessman Euclides De Carli. The decision was issued on 5 July 2016, by state prosecutor Francisco Santiago, citing land grabbing (“grilagem”) and the illegal use of lands assigned to agrarian reform. The prosecution is now considering filing criminal charges.

DRC: Communities mobilise to free themselves from a hundred years of colonial oil palm plantations

When the European colonizers invaded Central and West Africa during the nineteenth century, they came to understand (in a very narrow way) the possible wealth that could be generated from oil palm cultivation. They began taking over the local people’s large oil palm groves and tearing down forests to set up plantations. One of the pioneers of this effort was Britain’s Lord Leverhulme, who, through a campaign of terror against the local people, took over community palm groves and turned vast swathes of the Congo’s forests into slave plantations. His company’s oil palm plantations would eventually expand throughout West and Central Africa and then to Southeast Asia, and provide the foundation for the multinational corporation Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies.

When the European colonizers invaded Central and West Africa during the nineteenth century, they came to understand (in a very narrow way) the possible wealth that could be generated from oil palm cultivation. They began taking over the local people’s large oil palm groves and tearing down forests to set up plantations. One of the pioneers of this effort was Britain’s Lord Leverhulme, who, through a campaign of terror against the local people, took over community palm groves and turned vast swathes of the Congo’s forests into slave plantations. His company’s oil palm plantations would eventually expand throughout West and Central Africa and then to Southeast Asia, and provide the foundation for the multinational corporation Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies.