‘Our Land, Our Lives’: Time out on the global land rush

October 15, 2012 • Farming Practices, Water, Daily Email Recap

Below are the opening two paragraphs from a recently published study from Oxfam, called “Our Land, Our Times: Time Out on The Global Land Rush“. It takes a look, at the global phenomenon of land acquisition within sovereign territory by foreign interests. If you wish to see the references or read the full report, click through the Google Docs link: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-dZOjqE9J_jLUJUdnpoQzV3VG8/edit?pli=1

‘Our Land, Our Lives’: Time out on the global land rush

Today, stories of communities driven from their lands, often at the barrel of a gun, left destitute and unable to feed their families, have become all too familiar.1 As the scale and pace of large-scale land acquisitions increases globally, evidence is mounting that the land rush is out of control and that the price being paid by affected communities is unacceptably high. A huge amount of land has been sold off or leased out globally in the past decade: an area eight times the size of the UK.2 In poor countries, foreign investors bought up an area of land the size of London every six days between 2000 and 2010. Commercial interest in land could accelerate once again as recent food price spikes motivate rich countries to secure their own food supplies and make land a more secure and attractive option for investors and speculators. The 2008 boom in food prices is widely recognized as having triggered a surge in investor interest in land:3 from mid-2008-2009 reported agricultural land deals by foreign investors in developing countries rocketed by around 200 per cent.4

Oxfam backs greater investment in agriculture and increased support to small-scale food producers. Responsible investment and support is vital and poor countries desperately need it. Indeed Oxfam’s calculations suggest that the land acquired between 2000 and 2010 has the potential to feed a billion people, equivalent to the number of people who currently go to bed hungry each night.6 But the sad fact is that very few if any of these land investments benefit local people or help to fight hunger. Two-thirds of agricultural land deals by foreign investors are in countries with a serious hunger problem. Yet perversely, precious little of this land is being used to feed people in those countries, or going into local markets where it is desperately needed. Instead, the land is either being left idle, as speculators wait for its value to increase and then sell it at a profit, or it is predominantly used to grow crops for export, often for use as biofuels.7 About two-thirds of foreign land investors in developing countries intend to export everything they produce on the land.8 Africa has borne the brunt of this, with an area the size of Kenya acquired for agriculture by foreign investors in just ten years, but the experience on other continents is similar.9 World Bank and IMF research has shown that most of the land being sold off is in the poorest countries with the weakest protection of people’s land rights.10

To read the full report, click here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-dZOjqE9J_jLUJUdnpoQzV3VG8/edit?pli=1

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