Land-Grabs or Development Opportunities — What Do You Think?


| 9/27/2010 5:18:27 PM


Tags: question to readers, food security, world hunger,

Earth CloudsAccording to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), wealthy countries have come up with a novel solution to the problem of increasingly scarce land resources for the production of food and fuel. In order to feed and otherwise support their rapidly growing populations, they’re buying land to farm in places such as Africa and South America, then exporting the goods back to their own citizens.

Agribusiness organizations and financial giants have seized the opportunity as well. A clickable map of land acquisitions from IFPRI shows large purchases in Ethiopia by Flora EcoPower, a German biofuels company, and Sun Biofuels of the United Kingdom. Agricultural organizations from Saudi Arabia and Jordan have purchased thousands of hectares in the Sudan for the production of food crops and livestock. Even financial services giant Morgan Stanley has purchased a large tract of land in the Ukraine for a yet-unspecified purpose.



So what does this mean? The ratio of proponents to opponents appears to be close to even, mirroring the equal opportunity for positive and negative outcomes. With the proper oversight, complete with human rights and environmental controls in place, this could be a great benefit to the “host” country, supplying badly needed income and infrastructure. Without such controls, the possibility of exploitation is high.

Follow the intriguing debate in this blog series from the Worldwatch Institute: Innovations in Access to Land: Land Grab or Agricultural Investment?, Is There a “Win-Win” Solution to Land Acquisitions?, Large Scale Land Grabs Do Not Benefit Local Communities and Leaked World Bank Report Highlights Extent of Land Crab Problem. Let us know what you think about the issue in the comments below.

CARMEN ORTIZ
11/23/2010 7:45:08 AM

Kumbaya, Kumbaya my TimSVH, Kumbaya. "While there are indeed a number of very dubious land deals, the phenomenon of foreign investment in agricultural land is not necessarily a negative practice." Couldn't disagree more. Positive practice would be to help the people develop their own land with NO conditions. You have to be very naive to believe that "foreign investment" comes with altruistic intentions of helping 'them poor folks' have a better life. If by "foreign investment" you mean what Heifer International and other similar non-profit do, then yes, it can be a positive practice. But for-profit corporations? You have got to be joking. Notice I said HI and similar, which DOES NOT include what Bill Gates and similar folks do by trying to impose agricultural methods that will force the people to depend on Multinational Corporations to continue growing food. Help yes, taking over absolutely not.


Tim SVH
11/23/2010 1:07:28 AM

While there are indeed a number of very dubious land deals, the phenomenon of foreign investment in agricultural land is not necessarily a negative practice. Foreign investment and involvement in the development of the agricultural sector in developing countries -- especially in Africa -- is can also bring many benefits for the local population. But, for investments to be mutual beneficial they should be transparent, fully discussed and negotiated with local communities, respecting the right to food and land, and based upon a human security approach. I realise that many of these factors are lacking or opaque in most of the reported 'land grabs'. However, I think we should be careful not to easily brand foreign investment as 'neo-colonialism' and appreciate the potential of new knowledge and modern technology. I'm in the process of studying a well establish investment project in West Kenya, which has been branded on several occasions as a true land grab, on which I will report early next year on www.state-of-affairs.org For more of my thoughts on food security and land grabs, see my post "land grabs in the limelight" http://www.state-of-affairs.org/2010/10/08/land-grabs-in-the-limelight/


Tim SVH
11/23/2010 1:01:31 AM

While there are indeed a number of very dubious land deals, the phenomenon of foreign investment in agricultural land is not necessarily a negative practice. Foreign investment and involvement in the development of the agricultural sector in developing countries -- especially in Africa -- is can also bring many benefits for the local population. But, for investments to be mutual beneficial they should be transparent, fully discussed and negotiated with local communities, respecting the right to food and land, and based upon a human security approach. I realise that many of these factors are lacking or opaque in most of the reported 'land grabs'. However, I think we should be careful not to easily brand foreign investment as 'neo-colonialism' and appreciate the potential of new knowledge and modern technology. I'm in the process of studying a well establish investment project in West Kenya, which has been branded on several occasions as a true land grab, on which I will report early next year on www.state-of-affairs.org For more of my thoughts on food security and land grabs, see my post "land grabs in the limelight" http://www.state-of-affairs.org/2010/10/08/land-grabs-in-the-limelight/







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