GRAIN has made available a new data set documenting 416 recent, large-scale land grabs by foreign investors for the production of food crops. The cases cover nearly 35 million hectares of land in 66 countries.
The collection of deals provides a stark snapshot of how agribusiness has been rapidly expanding across the globe since the food and financial crises of 2008 and how this is taking food production out of the hands of farmers and local communities. It confirms that Africa is the primary target of the land grabs, but it also underlines the importance of Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe, demonstrating that this is a global phenomenon.
The data set also paints a clear picture of who the land grabbers are. While most of the 298 land grabbers documented are from the agribusiness sector, financial companies and sovereign wealth funds are responsible for about a third of the deals. And on many occasions there is overlap. For instance, the data set shows how Cargill, one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies, has been acquiring hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland through its hedge fund Black River Asset Management.
European and Asian based investors account for about two thirds of the land grabs within the data set. China and India are major sources of land grabbers, as are the UK and Germany. But the UK, much like Singapore and Mauritius, serves as a tax haven for land grabbers, and often the true operating bases of the companies reside elsewhere. Other major centres of land grabbers are the US, which tops the list at 41 cases, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia with 39 combined.
French and Spanish versions will be available shortly.
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems.