The latest from GRAIN

DRC communities file complaint with German development bank to resolve century-old land conflict with palm oil company

Nine communities from the DR Congo took a historic step this week by filing a complaint with the complaints mechanism of the German development bank (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft – DEG). The communities of the DR Congo want a resolution to a land conflict that dates back to the Belgian colonial period with a palm oil company that is currently being financed by a consortium of European development banks led by DEG.  

Nine communities from the DR Congo took a historic step this week by filing a complaint with the complaints mechanism of the German development bank (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft – DEG). The communities of the DR Congo want a resolution to a land conflict that dates back to the Belgian colonial period with a palm oil company that is currently being financed by a consortium of European development banks led by DEG.  

The real seeds producers: Small-scale farmers save, use, share and enhance the seed diversity of the crops that feed Africa

The picture often painted for us is that we need corporate seeds to feed the world: they are alleged to be more efficient, productive and predictable. Locally developed farmer varieties are painted as backwards, less-productive and disease-ridden. But those of us with our feet on the ground know that this is not the reality in Africa. Just to start with a sobering fact: the vast bulk of food produced on the continent comes from homegrown farmers’ seeds (some studies put the figure at 80%). If these seeds are so “backward,” what moves farmers to keep preserving and planting them? What benefits do they derive from them? What challenges do they encounter in this effort? How must they be supported so that they can do their work more effectively? AFSA and GRAIN decided to find out. We work with numerous partner organisations across the continent, many of them involved in local seed diversity activities. AFSA along with many other civil society organisations (CSO) on the continent have adopted the term farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS) to acknowledge certain practices that have been dismissed as “informal” by some.

The picture often painted for us is that we need corporate seeds to feed the world: they are alleged to be more efficient, productive and predictable. Locally developed farmer varieties are painted as backwards, less-productive and disease-ridden. But those of us with our feet on the ground know that this is not the reality in Africa. Just to start with a sobering fact: the vast bulk of food produced on the continent comes from homegrown farmers’ seeds (some studies put the figure at 80%). If these seeds are so “backward,” what moves farmers to keep preserving and planting them? What benefits do they derive from them? What challenges do they encounter in this effort? How must they be supported so that they can do their work more effectively? AFSA and GRAIN decided to find out. We work with numerous partner organisations across the continent, many of them involved in local seed diversity activities. AFSA along with many other civil society organisations (CSO) on the continent have adopted the term farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS) to acknowledge certain practices that have been dismissed as “informal” by some.

New report shines light on the role of farmers in saving Africa’s seed diversity

An analysis on the role of small-scale farmers in saving Africa’s seed diversity has been compiled and co-published today by GRAIN, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) together with research partners from Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

An analysis on the role of small-scale farmers in saving Africa’s seed diversity has been compiled and co-published today by GRAIN, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) together with research partners from Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Summary report of the public seminar "Supermarkets: today’s food source - Trends and impact"

The growth of the supermarket sector has been very rapid. Today, 30 global supermarket chains already control a third of the global retail food market, taking a huge share of the market of the food that the people around the world eat.  This is not just a modern trend, an evolution of the way things are sold.  Their vast expansion has been supported and promoted by Free Trade Agreements, investment liberalisation, government policies to promote foreign direct investment, and laws and regulations that make it more difficult for small-scale food systems to continue to operate. Supermarket distribution systems - just like the industrial farming system that produces the bulk raw materials that go into the cheap processed foods lining their shelves - are being tremendously subsidised by governments, using tax payers money.  

The growth of the supermarket sector has been very rapid. Today, 30 global supermarket chains already control a third of the global retail food market, taking a huge share of the market of the food that the people around the world eat.  This is not just a modern trend, an evolution of the way things are sold.  Their vast expansion has been supported and promoted by Free Trade Agreements, investment liberalisation, government policies to promote foreign direct investment, and laws and regulations that make it more difficult for small-scale food systems to continue to operate. Supermarket distribution systems - just like the industrial farming system that produces the bulk raw materials that go into the cheap processed foods lining their shelves - are being tremendously subsidised by governments, using tax payers money.  

Landgrabbing, illicit finance and corporate crime: an update

Land grabbing is now considered a crime against humanity, but few land grabbers end up in jail. Instead, if you search the specialised website farmlandgrab.org for news about law suits, court proceedings, convictions or imprisonment related to land deals, what you will largely find are reports of local communities being accused of wrongdoing for defending their own territories against powerful companies! Yet the links between crime, corruption and those engaging in agricultural land deals are real.  

Land grabbing is now considered a crime against humanity, but few land grabbers end up in jail. Instead, if you search the specialised website farmlandgrab.org for news about law suits, court proceedings, convictions or imprisonment related to land deals, what you will largely find are reports of local communities being accused of wrongdoing for defending their own territories against powerful companies! Yet the links between crime, corruption and those engaging in agricultural land deals are real.  

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.

Modern retail and market concentration in Thailand

In Thailand, the development of modern retail puts consumers and farmers at a loss. According to BioThai, 75 percent of the price of a banana sold in a modern retail outlet goes to the retailer and its suppliers, while only 25 percent goes to the farmer. Moreover, the price of a banana in Thailand is almost the same as the price of one sold in Europe, where 80 percent of the price goes to the retailers and towards import taxes.  

In Thailand, the development of modern retail puts consumers and farmers at a loss. According to BioThai, 75 percent of the price of a banana sold in a modern retail outlet goes to the retailer and its suppliers, while only 25 percent goes to the farmer. Moreover, the price of a banana in Thailand is almost the same as the price of one sold in Europe, where 80 percent of the price goes to the retailers and towards import taxes.  

Emissions impossible: How big meat and dairy are heating up the planet

The world's biggest meat and dairy companies could surpass Exxon, Shell and BP as the world's biggest climate polluters within the next few decades. At a time when the planet must dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, these global animal protein giants are driving consumption by ramping up production and exports. GRAIN and IATP examined the world’s largest 35 companies and found that most are not reporting their GHG emissions data and few have set targets that could reduce their overall emissions. We need to urgently build food systems that meet the needs of farmers, consumers and the planet. But to do so, we must break the power of the big meat and dairy conglomerates and hold them to account for their supersized climate footprint.

The world's biggest meat and dairy companies could surpass Exxon, Shell and BP as the world's biggest climate polluters within the next few decades. At a time when the planet must dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, these global animal protein giants are driving consumption by ramping up production and exports. GRAIN and IATP examined the world’s largest 35 companies and found that most are not reporting their GHG emissions data and few have set targets that could reduce their overall emissions. We need to urgently build food systems that meet the needs of farmers, consumers and the planet. But to do so, we must break the power of the big meat and dairy conglomerates and hold them to account for their supersized climate footprint.

Big meat and dairy companies are heating up the planet

A new report shows how the world’s 35 largest meat and dairy companies are pursuing growth strategies that will increase their emissions and derail global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change. 

A new report shows how the world’s 35 largest meat and dairy companies are pursuing growth strategies that will increase their emissions and derail global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change. 

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.  

Top e-commerce companies move into retail

Electronic commerce is expanding rapidly into food distribution and retail across Asia. In particular, the emergence of online food delivery services is generating significant changes to farm-to-fork food supply chains. Yet very few countries have regulations covering online food distribution, including food safety and health hazards, or even regulations covering cross-border e-commerce for food. Some of the world's largest e-commerce and retail companies are moving aggressively to take control of and expand online food retail, with major implications for local food systems, small vendors and farmers.

Electronic commerce is expanding rapidly into food distribution and retail across Asia. In particular, the emergence of online food delivery services is generating significant changes to farm-to-fork food supply chains. Yet very few countries have regulations covering online food distribution, including food safety and health hazards, or even regulations covering cross-border e-commerce for food. Some of the world's largest e-commerce and retail companies are moving aggressively to take control of and expand online food retail, with major implications for local food systems, small vendors and farmers.

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.  

Daewoo's overseas agribusiness expansion

Ten years ago, headlines around the world reported the shocking news that a subsidiary of Daewoo Logistics called Madagascar Future Enterprise Corp., was negotiating a 99-year lease with the government of Madagascar for 1.3 million hectares of arable land – almost half of the country’s arable land. Their plan was to grow corn and oil palm in four regions of the island for shipment back to South Korea to produce animal feed and biofuel respectively. Today, far from the 1999 bankruptcy of Daewoo Motors, South Korea’s Daewoo is one of world’s largest transnational conglomerates and continues to expand a business empire that extends from manufacturing and trade to natural resources like oil and gas, minerals and food. 

Ten years ago, headlines around the world reported the shocking news that a subsidiary of Daewoo Logistics called Madagascar Future Enterprise Corp., was negotiating a 99-year lease with the government of Madagascar for 1.3 million hectares of arable land – almost half of the country’s arable land. Their plan was to grow corn and oil palm in four regions of the island for shipment back to South Korea to produce animal feed and biofuel respectively. Today, far from the 1999 bankruptcy of Daewoo Motors, South Korea’s Daewoo is one of world’s largest transnational conglomerates and continues to expand a business empire that extends from manufacturing and trade to natural resources like oil and gas, minerals and food. 

GRAIN in 2017: Highlights of our activities

In October 2017, the Guardian published a story titled “2017 on course to be deadliest on record for land defenders”. By their count, at that moment, the number of people killed because of their stance against mining, agribusiness and other forms of land grabbing, had reached 150. By the end of the year, the number stood at almost 200. 

In October 2017, the Guardian published a story titled “2017 on course to be deadliest on record for land defenders”. By their count, at that moment, the number of people killed because of their stance against mining, agribusiness and other forms of land grabbing, had reached 150. By the end of the year, the number stood at almost 200.