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. 

Land ceilings: reining in land grabbers or dumbing down the debate?

Governments in a number of countries are trying to address concerns about land grabbing by closing their borders to foreign investors. Are these restrictions effective? Not really, says GRAIN. They give the impression that something is being done at the highest level and appeal to nationalist or pro-sovereignty sentiments. But they are very narrow approaches to a complex problem and often full of back doors and loopholes.

Governments in a number of countries are trying to address concerns about land grabbing by closing their borders to foreign investors. Are these restrictions effective? Not really, says GRAIN. They give the impression that something is being done at the highest level and appeal to nationalist or pro-sovereignty sentiments. But they are very narrow approaches to a complex problem and often full of back doors and loopholes.

Responsible farmland investing? Current efforts to regulate land grabs will make things worse

From the World Bank to pension funds, efforts are under way to regulate land grabs through the creation of codes and standards. The idea is to distinguish those land deals that do meet certain criteria and should be approvingly called "investments" from those that don't and can continue to be stigmatised as land "grabs". Up to now, it was mostly international agencies that were trying to do this. Now, the private sector is engaging in a serious way to set its own rules of the game. Either way, the net result is voluntary self-regulation -- which is ineffective, unreliable and no remedy for the fundamental wrongness of these deals. Rather than help financial and corporate elites to "responsibly invest" in farmland, we need them to stop and divest. Only then can the quite different matter of strengthening and supporting small-scale rural producers in their own territories and communities succeed, for the two agendas clash. In this article, GRAIN gives a quick update on what is going on.

From the World Bank to pension funds, efforts are under way to regulate land grabs through the creation of codes and standards. The idea is to distinguish those land deals that do meet certain criteria and should be approvingly called "investments" from those that don't and can continue to be stigmatised as land "grabs". Up to now, it was mostly international agencies that were trying to do this. Now, the private sector is engaging in a serious way to set its own rules of the game. Either way, the net result is voluntary self-regulation -- which is ineffective, unreliable and no remedy for the fundamental wrongness of these deals. Rather than help financial and corporate elites to "responsibly invest" in farmland, we need them to stop and divest. Only then can the quite different matter of strengthening and supporting small-scale rural producers in their own territories and communities succeed, for the two agendas clash. In this article, GRAIN gives a quick update on what is going on.

Squeezing Africa dry: behind every land grab is a water grab

Food cannot be grown without water. In Africa, one in three people endure water scarcity and climate change will make things worse. Building on Africa’s highly sophisticated indigenous water management systems could help resolve this growing crisis, but these very systems are being destroyed by large-scale land grabs amidst claims that Africa's water is abundant, under-utilised and ready to be harnessed for export-oriented agriculture. GRAIN looks behind the current scramble for land in Africa to reveal a global struggle for what is increasingly seen as a commodity more precious than gold or oil: water.

Food cannot be grown without water. In Africa, one in three people endure water scarcity and climate change will make things worse. Building on Africa’s highly sophisticated indigenous water management systems could help resolve this growing crisis, but these very systems are being destroyed by large-scale land grabs amidst claims that Africa's water is abundant, under-utilised and ready to be harnessed for export-oriented agriculture. GRAIN looks behind the current scramble for land in Africa to reveal a global struggle for what is increasingly seen as a commodity more precious than gold or oil: water.

Land grabs menace food security in Latin America despite FAO claims

Land grabbing emerged as one of the most important barriers to the advancement of food sovereignty in Latin America & the Caribbean at a recent meeting of social movement organisations. In advance of a United Nations conference in Buenos Aires addressing food security for the region, a new UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report claiming that land grabbing is restricted to only two major countries, drew condemnation from social movements concerned about the scale of the grabs and their the impact on the lives of millions of peasants, people of Afro-communities, indigenous peoples, family farmers, and fisherfolk.

Land grabbing emerged as one of the most important barriers to the advancement of food sovereignty in Latin America & the Caribbean at a recent meeting of social movement organisations. In advance of a United Nations conference in Buenos Aires addressing food security for the region, a new UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report claiming that land grabbing is restricted to only two major countries, drew condemnation from social movements concerned about the scale of the grabs and their the impact on the lives of millions of peasants, people of Afro-communities, indigenous peoples, family farmers, and fisherfolk.

GRAIN releases data set with over 400 global land grabs

GRAIN launches a new data set documenting 416 recent, large-scale land grabs by foreign investors for the production of food crops. The collection of cases cover nearly 35 million hectares of land in 66 countries, providing a stark snapshot of how agribusiness is expanding across the globe and how it is taking food production out of the hands of farmers and local communities.

GRAIN launches a new data set documenting 416 recent, large-scale land grabs by foreign investors for the production of food crops. The collection of cases cover nearly 35 million hectares of land in 66 countries, providing a stark snapshot of how agribusiness is expanding across the globe and how it is taking food production out of the hands of farmers and local communities.

Pension funds: key players in the global farmland grab

Large scale agricultural land acquisitions are generating conflicts and controversies around the world. A growing body of reports show that these projects are bad for local communities and that they promote the wrong kind of agriculture for a world in the grips of serious food and environmental crises. Yet funds continue to flow to overseas farmland like iron to a magnet. Why? Because of the financial returns. And some of the biggest players looking to profit from farmland are pension funds, with billions of dollars invested.

Large scale agricultural land acquisitions are generating conflicts and controversies around the world. A growing body of reports show that these projects are bad for local communities and that they promote the wrong kind of agriculture for a world in the grips of serious food and environmental crises. Yet funds continue to flow to overseas farmland like iron to a magnet. Why? Because of the financial returns. And some of the biggest players looking to profit from farmland are pension funds, with billions of dollars invested.

It's time to outlaw land grabbing, not to make it 'responsible'!

On 18-20 April 2011, a gathering of some 200 farmland investors, government officials and international civil servants will meet at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC to discuss how to operationalise "responsible" large-scale land acquisitions. Over in Rome, the Committee on World Food Security, housed at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, is about to start a process of consultation on principles to regulate such deals. Social movements and civil society organisations (CSOs), on the other hand, are mobilising to stop land grabs, and undo the ones already coming into play, as a matter of utmost urgency. Why do the World Bank, UN agencies and a number of highly concerned governments insist on trying to promote these land grab deals as "responsible agricultural investments"?

On 18-20 April 2011, a gathering of some 200 farmland investors, government officials and international civil servants will meet at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC to discuss how to operationalise "responsible" large-scale land acquisitions. Over in Rome, the Committee on World Food Security, housed at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, is about to start a process of consultation on principles to regulate such deals. Social movements and civil society organisations (CSOs), on the other hand, are mobilising to stop land grabs, and undo the ones already coming into play, as a matter of utmost urgency. Why do the World Bank, UN agencies and a number of highly concerned governments insist on trying to promote these land grab deals as "responsible agricultural investments"?

New agricultural agreement in Argentina: A land grabber’s “instruction manual”

The Government of the Province of Río Negro, Argentina, and one of China's largest agribusiness companies are moving forward on an agreement that hands over thousands of hectares of land for the production of soybean and cereal crops for export. The Río Negro provincial government has touted this project as a “food production agreement” but local communities and people across Argentina are voicing their opposition, denouncing it as a land giveaway for industrial soy production. They call the agreement “a land grabber’s instruction manual”. This issue of Against the grain gives the details.

The Government of the Province of Río Negro, Argentina, and one of China's largest agribusiness companies are moving forward on an agreement that hands over thousands of hectares of land for the production of soybean and cereal crops for export. The Río Negro provincial government has touted this project as a “food production agreement” but local communities and people across Argentina are voicing their opposition, denouncing it as a land giveaway for industrial soy production. They call the agreement “a land grabber’s instruction manual”. This issue of Against the grain gives the details.

World Bank report on land grabbing: beyond the smoke and mirrors

On 7 September 2010, the World Bank finally published its much anticipated report on the global farmland grab. GRAIN's take on the report is that it is both a disappointment and a failure. Very little new and solid data about how these land grab deals are playing out on the ground is presented. The findings that the Bank does articulate -- that the land grab trend is huge and growing, that communities are not benefiting and that the conditions under which most of these deals are being pursued are extremely poor -- corroborate what many have been saying for two years already. The Bank's own direct involvement in the global land grab is hardly mentioned. Most of the report is smoke and mirrors talk about potentials and opportunities, leading us to the conclusion that there is a huge disconnect between what the World Bank says, what is happening on the ground and what is truly needed. Right now, numerous governments and civil society organisations are calling to put a brake of one form or another on these land grab deals, which the study essentially ignores.

On 7 September 2010, the World Bank finally published its much anticipated report on the global farmland grab. GRAIN's take on the report is that it is both a disappointment and a failure. Very little new and solid data about how these land grab deals are playing out on the ground is presented. The findings that the Bank does articulate -- that the land grab trend is huge and growing, that communities are not benefiting and that the conditions under which most of these deals are being pursued are extremely poor -- corroborate what many have been saying for two years already. The Bank's own direct involvement in the global land grab is hardly mentioned. Most of the report is smoke and mirrors talk about potentials and opportunities, leading us to the conclusion that there is a huge disconnect between what the World Bank says, what is happening on the ground and what is truly needed. Right now, numerous governments and civil society organisations are calling to put a brake of one form or another on these land grab deals, which the study essentially ignores.

Turning African farmland over to big business

The US’s Millennium Challenge Corporation was created by the US Congress in January 2004 and has a large budget. There is a big carrot dangling to lure countries in as the money is disbursed in the form of grants, not loans. With its land projects in Mali, Ghana, Mozambique and Benin it is plain the MCC is playing a key role in commodifying Africa’s farmlands and opening them up to US agribusiness.

The US’s Millennium Challenge Corporation was created by the US Congress in January 2004 and has a large budget. There is a big carrot dangling to lure countries in as the money is disbursed in the form of grants, not loans. With its land projects in Mali, Ghana, Mozambique and Benin it is plain the MCC is playing a key role in commodifying Africa’s farmlands and opening them up to US agribusiness.

The new farm owners

Corporate investors lead the rush for control over overseas farmland With all the talk about "food security," and distorted media statements like "South Korea leases half of Madagascar's land," it may not be evident to a lot of people that the lead actors in today's global land grab for overseas food production are not countries or governments but corporations. So much attention has been focused on the involvement of states, like Saudi Arabia, China or South Korea. But the reality is that while governments are facilitating the deals, private companies are the ones getting control of the land. And their interests are simply not the same as those of governments.

Corporate investors lead the rush for control over overseas farmland With all the talk about "food security," and distorted media statements like "South Korea leases half of Madagascar's land," it may not be evident to a lot of people that the lead actors in today's global land grab for overseas food production are not countries or governments but corporations. So much attention has been focused on the involvement of states, like Saudi Arabia, China or South Korea. But the reality is that while governments are facilitating the deals, private companies are the ones getting control of the land. And their interests are simply not the same as those of governments.

CGIAR joins global farmland grab

An internal document recently posted on the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) website reveals that IRRI has been advising Saudi Arabia in the context of its strategy to acquire farm land overseas for its own food production.

An internal document recently posted on the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) website reveals that IRRI has been advising Saudi Arabia in the context of its strategy to acquire farm land overseas for its own food production.

Korean women farmers on the Daewoo/Madagascar land deal

Daewoo Logistics is a subsidiary of the South Korean conglomerate Daewoo Corporation. In November 2008, world media reported that it was securing rights to 1.3 million hectares of farmland in Madagascar -- half the country's arable soils - to export back to Korea. A lot of people around the world were shocked by this news and called it neocolonialism. GRAIN sat down with Han Young Me of the Korean Women Peasants Alliance to learn what Korean farmers think of the Daewoo deal and of the Korean government's overall push to have corporations go abroad to produce the country's food.

Daewoo Logistics is a subsidiary of the South Korean conglomerate Daewoo Corporation. In November 2008, world media reported that it was securing rights to 1.3 million hectares of farmland in Madagascar -- half the country's arable soils - to export back to Korea. A lot of people around the world were shocked by this news and called it neocolonialism. GRAIN sat down with Han Young Me of the Korean Women Peasants Alliance to learn what Korean farmers think of the Daewoo deal and of the Korean government's overall push to have corporations go abroad to produce the country's food.

Seized: The 2008 landgrab for food and financial security

Today's food and financial crises have, in tandem, triggered a new global landgrab. On the one hand, “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. On the other hand, food corporations and private investors, hungry for profits in the midst of the deepening financial crisis, see investment in foreign farmlands as an important new source of revenue. As a result, fertile agricultural lands are becoming increasingly privatised and concentrated. If left unchecked, this global landgrab could spell the end of small scale farming, and rural livelihoods, in numerous places around the world.

Today's food and financial crises have, in tandem, triggered a new global landgrab. On the one hand, “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. On the other hand, food corporations and private investors, hungry for profits in the midst of the deepening financial crisis, see investment in foreign farmlands as an important new source of revenue. As a result, fertile agricultural lands are becoming increasingly privatised and concentrated. If left unchecked, this global landgrab could spell the end of small scale farming, and rural livelihoods, in numerous places around the world.