Land grabs expand the frontier of industrial agriculture

Land grabs expand the frontier of industrial agriculture

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In 2015, the planet reached "alarming" and "unprecedented" rates of climate change, according to the United Nations - and 2016 is set to become another year of breaking previous records. Severe droughts, for example, have triggered devastating shortages in food and water supplies in India, the Pacific, and eastern and southern Africa. But another factor, notes the organization GRAIN, is amplifying both climate change and its impacts: the persistent scourge of land grabbing, which is deepening.

Building on the 2008 investigation that put land grabbing into the global discussion, GRAIN published a new database documenting nearly 500 current cases of land grabbing around the world. The cases span 78 countries, about $ 94 billion in investments related to more than 30 million hectares of agricultural land (an area close to the size of Finland).

Some of these egregious land deals, which appeared in the investment craze that followed the 2008 food and financial crisis, have already scaled back their ambitions or have already collapsed altogether. For example, the assassination of Libyan leader Muanmar Gaddafi ended a Libyan project in Mali involving 100,000 hectares of rice.

However, these failures in land deal deals are not necessarily cause for celebration around the global land grabbing phenomenon, as those that continue embody "tough initiatives to expand the frontiers of industrial agriculture."

These tough businesses typically have access to financing, and call for the backing of local or national government officials and are here to stay. One of the effects of this is that they can be very intractable. Much of the Asian-led expansion of oil palm in Africa falls into this category, as does the entry of pension funds and trading conglomerates into agricultural land investments.

In most cases, these land grabs also monopolize water — granting foreign companies access to the main sources of water for local communities. These grabs occur in regions with abundance but also in regions with water scarcity. As Ange David Baimey of GRAIN notes: “A terrifying number of water swallows linked to land grabbing are occurring in areas where there are already intense conflicts over water or upstream from water-dependent communities such as the Lurio River project in Mozambique. ”.

As these businesses escalate conflicts, violent repression sets in. Land rights activists are jailed, journalists are routinely harassed and assassinated peasant and indigenous leaders.

What's worse, many of these businesses are remodeled as "responsible investing," and companies and investors become adept at the new (and almost entirely voluntary) guidelines for land acquisition, as well as inventing some of their own. This "due diligence", however, is just a front almost always.

If there is any cause for optimism, it lies in the tremendous drive for global resistance, local mobilizations, and international solidarity that rally against land grabbing. Peasants, day laborers, migrant groups, fishermen, indigenous peoples, shepherds, and others are beginning to converge to confront the problem on multiple fronts, while developing new strategies of resistance. This new report with its database are resources and tools for these struggles.

The report and database are available at:

Contact: Carlos Vicente, Buenos Aires
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +54 220 4774581, 011 15 63088809

Video: Land grabbing in Romania. DW Documentary (July 2022).


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