By Mateo Mier y Terán
The rapidly increasing production of soybean over the past four decades in the southern cone of Latin America, mainly in Brazil and Argentina, has demanded vast areas of land and predictions are that the global demand for this crop will continue pushing the increase in production. Most research or documents talking about this 'expansion of soybean' point out that the production of this crop has brought high economic growth but that it has also caused environmental impacts. However, the nature of and reasons for this expansion, as well as the impacts and opportunities that the soybean agri-food system brings, vary according to the location and are interpreted and understood from various contrasting perspectives.1 Moreover, the complexity of the global soybean agrifood system and its economic, socio-political and environmental impacts are not grasped by any single study. Instead there are diverse visions of what the expansion of soybean has implied and what the future of the production of this crop is (Brandão et al. 2006; Steward 2007; Greco et al. 2009; Gudynas 2007). In this panorama an array of public, private and civil society initiatives, national and international, have sprouted to influence and govern the production of this crop as well as its economic, environmental and socio-political impacts.
Large Scale Investment Projects and Land Grabs in Zimbabwe: The Case of Nuanetsi Ranch Bio-Diesel...
By Joseph Mujere and Sylvester Dombo
Since 2000 the land reform discourse in Zimbabwe has focussed on land redistribution as well as the new forms of livelihoods, which it allowed the peasants to have. Focus has also been placed on the impact of the land reform on issues like food security and poverty reduction. However, a new trajectory has since emerged which has seen large investment entrepreneurs getting into partnerships with the government to establish large-scale projects, which have led to displacement of peasant farmers. This paper seeks to analyse the new land grabbing drive by focussing on the Nuanetsi Ranch Bio-Diesel project in Mwenezi District and its impact on the peasants who had either been resettled in the ranch or had re-settled themselves. The focus of the paper will be on the controversies this project has generated and the responses of the local peasants to such a large-scale but non-food investment project. Against the backdrop of peasants centred land redistribution, the Nuanetsi Bio-Diesel project represents a new trend, which needs to be critically analysed. The paper also situates the Nuanetsi Bio-Diesel Project within the broader debates on large investment projects in the global south such as bio-diesel and mining?s impact on food provision and livelihoods of peasants.
By LI Xiubin
China is undergoing rapid industrialization and urbanization, which substantially increase pressure on farmland resources, environment, and peasants’ life as well. During the past two decades, some 4 million ha of farmland has been occupied by non-agricultural sectors. It is estimated that more than 50 million rural people lost their farmland in this urban sprawl process. It puts tremendous stress on these people considering that China has not yet established a nation-wide social security system covering all peasants in rural areas. Such a land conversion is regarded as the major contribution to the miracle of China's economic growth, but the author argues that peasants’ rights to land has been abused in the process which is also a threat to sustainable use of land resources. The underlying reason for this abuse is the poor institutional scheme of land titling. The paper provides a review of literature on the extent of the land conversion and impacts of the conversion on peasants’ life.
“How come that others are selling our land?” – Customary Land Rights, Rural Livelihoods and Foreign.
“How come that others are selling our land?” – Customary Land Rights, Rural Livelihoods and Foreign Land Acquisition in the Case of a UK-based Forestry Company in Tanzania
By Martina Locher
Reports on transnational land acquisitions raise concerns about local people’s inadequate involvement in the decision-making process and violations of their land rights. In Tanzania, the new Village Land Act effective from 2001 is relatively progressive in terms of recognising customary land rights. According to this recently enacted legislation, transferring 'Village Land' to an investor depends on the villagers’ decision. It is therefore interesting to focus on the acknowledgement of customary land rights during land transaction procedures in Tanzania. This study analyses the case of a UK-based forestry company that has leased several plots of land in different villages in the Kilolo district. Interviews with various stakeholders in one of the cases reveal that even though the legal procedure has been followed in a formally correct way from the side of the investor, weaknesses at local government level have led to a conflictive situation, with a number of affected villagers having lost their land rights - and thus the base for their livelihoods - against their will. These include several households from a neighbour village, whose customary rights go back to the period before the resettlements during the 1970s (villagisation). Employing the concepts of property rights and legal pluralism (Benda-Beckmann et al. 2006), this article analyses the decision-making process that preceded this land transaction, related local power structures as well as the immediate implications for the different people's livelihoods.
Alison Elizabeth Schneider
Political dynamics of the global land grab are exemplified in Cambodia, where at least 27 forced evictions took place in 2009, affecting 23,000 people. Evictions of the rural poor are legitimized by the assumption that non-private land is idle, marginal, or degraded and available for capitalist exploitation. This paper: (1) questions the assumption that land is idle; (2) explores whether land grabs can be regulated through a ‘code of conduct’; and (3) examines peasant resistance to land grabs. Overall, the Cambodian case studies confirm that land grabs are not benefiting the rural poor, but they challenge the process of dispossession. Although ‘everyday forms of peasant politics’ are prevalent, more organized and structured forms of political contention by rural poor communities and their NGO allies are slowly emerging.
Joint ventures in South Africa’s land reform programme: strategic partnerships or strategic resource grab?
By Nerhene Davis & Edward LahiffInteroduction: Over the past three years, growing attention has been paid to the large-scale acquisition of land in developing countries by foreign investors (GRAIN 2008; von Braun and Meinzen-Dick 2009; World Bank, 2010). Vermeulen and Cotula (2010:1) report examples from across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Countries such as China, India, South Korea and the Gulf States are among those at the forefront of this type of agricultural expansion, as these countries seek new avenues to supply in their growing food and energy needs. Von Braun and Meinzen-Dick (2009) estimates that between 15 and 20 million hectares of farmland in developing countries has changed hands since 2006.
by P Woodhouse and A S Ganho
The many headlines focusing on ‘land-grabbing’ have distracted attention from the role that access to water plays in underpinning the projected productivity of foreign direct investment in acquisition of agricultural land in developing countries. This paper will review the explicit and implicit requirements for access to water for irrigation in planned agricultural projects on land that is subject to such foreign investment deals. It will focus particularly on land acquisition in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where, for savanna ecosystems that cover some two thirds of the area, rainfall uncertainty is the principal constraint to increased agricultural productivity. To the extent that foreign investment ‘land grab’ deals result in the expansion of irrigation in SSA, it is therefore arguable that they may accelerate significantly the development of water infrastructure that will reduce uncertainty and risk inherent in much of African agriculture. For this to be the case, the benefits of such water resource development will need to be broadly distributed. There is, however, some evidence that foreign investment may compete with existing water use, given that land deals have in some instances included provisions for priority access to water in cases of scarcity. Using available secondary sources, the paper will assess the extent to which impacts on water use may constitute a significant hidden agenda of land deals.
By Janette Bulkan
Introduction: China has arranged free trade agreements (Coxhead 2007, Jenkins et al. 2007) which lay out in some details what is to be traded and on what terms in a WTO-compatible framework with large supply countries such as Chile and Peru, both significant for minerals. Smaller countries, including former colonies of European powers, may have experience of one-sided trading arrangements during colonial times and more recently are likely to have enjoyed the various trade shelters arranged by the European Commission, such as the Lomé Convention (1976-1999) and its successor the Cotonou Agreement (2003-2023). How are small countries now relating to a China hungry for renewable and non-renewable natural resources? After decades of lectures and conditionalities imposed by the donor agencies of the former colonial powers, how does the Chinese approach of an unconditional commercial relationship actually work out in practice? This paper deals with the case of Guyana, a small and politically isolated semi-socialist country, the only anglophone in South America.
A working paper by David K. Deng
Sudan is among the global ‘hotspots’ for large-scale land acquisitions. Although most of this investment activity was thought to be focused in the Northern part of the country, recent research indicates that a surprising number of large-scale land acquisitions have taken place in the South as well in recent years. Now that Southern Sudanese have opted for independence in the 2011 referendum on self-determination, it is likely that investment activity will increase further. This paper presents preliminary data concerning large-scale land acquisitions in two of the ‘Green Belt’ states of Southern Sudan: Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria. It explores the concept ‘land belongs to the community’, a statement that has been taken up by communities in their demand for greater involvement in decisionmaking regarding community lands. It also examines processes of company-community engagement and the extent to which rural communities are being involved in investment projects. Finally, the paper presents a number of case studies that illustrate the complex interplay between cultural sovereignty, conflict, and post-war reconstruction in Southern Sudan. It concludes with recommendations for the government moving forward.
By Kojo Sebastian Amanor
In the last few years there has been a growing concern with investment in large-scale estate agriculture, particularly within Africa, and its impact on eroding land rights and livelihoods of smallholders. This tends to regard investment in large-scale agriculture as a perverse aberration, which undermines the equity prevalent in customary tenure systems and recent policy frameworks concerned with the harmonisation of customary and statutory tenure, and strategies concerned with the promoting smallholder agriculture and social participation in agricultural development. However, by presenting these developments as an aberration and in attempting to find a referential moral economy within the precepts of exiting policies, this approach reaffirms the rhetorical claims of neoliberal paradigms on agricultural development, without subjecting them to a critical analysis. Moreover this tends to result in a highly partisan (and patronising) framework in which new investors from the East and the Middle East are depicted as not understanding the refined nuances and morality of the (neoliberal) development policies that have been elaborated in western countries and promoting unequal development.