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Land grab: The race for the world's farmland

Land grab

Edited by Michael Kugelman and Susan L. Levenstein
Published by Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Website: www.wilsoncenter.org
2009, 123pp, ISBN 933 549 55 6(pdf), free to download

The idea of wealthy governments and private sector investors acquiring large areas of farmland in developing countries has raised ethical concerns about the impact these deals will have on smallscale farmers, their land and livelihoods, and the environment. But supporters argue that increased foreign investment could be the spark for a new Green Revolution. With the aim of boosting awareness of the issues and promoting discussion, the Woodrow Wilson Center hosted a conference in 2009 on foreign land acquisitions. Land grab succinctly presents the event's seven papers and makes recommendations for investors, host governments and the international community for how to approach the deals.

In addition to highlighting case studies from Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union, the book examines the patterns and motivations of the investments and considers the implications for investors, host countries and food security. Unequal power relations that leave smallholders at risk of exploitation and loss of land, without consultation or compensation are risks highlighted by Alexandra Spieldoch from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. While Chido Makunike, a Senegal-based agricultural commodities exporter, warns that successful agribusiness projects will be unlikely if investors fail to understand what land means in Africa.

With perspectives from members of the international community, farmers, and investors, Land grab brings together an interesting mix of opinions that will be of interest to farmers, investors, and development practitioners alike.

Date published: March 2010


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