Land grabs: governments in search of meals safety sow the seeds of discontent


Donald Trump stole headlines as US president when he was reported to be excited about shopping for Greenland. The self-governing Danish territory rebuffed the thought and declared itself not on the market. But transnational land offers are hardly an anomaly.

Food insecurity is accelerating the observe. Turkey is amongst these in search of pastures new to be able to feed its inhabitants. As inflation soars, the nation hopes to revive a flagging deal for a 99-year lease on 800,000 hectares in Sudan.

Nearly 500 such offers happened within the decade to 2016 in keeping with Grain, an NGO monitoring farmland leases which makes use of information from the undertaking These offers lined greater than 30mn hectares of land in 78 nations, many in Africa. That provides to stress on depleting sources equivalent to water. But the sprint for meals, exacerbated by refugee crises, local weather change and battle, suggests extra exercise to return.

Private firms have joined the land seize. In 2008 South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics snaffled a 99-year lease on 1.3mn hectares — half the scale of Belgium — in Madagascar. Proposed price ticket: zero. “We want to plant corn there to ensure our food security,” a supervisor informed the FT on the time. “Food can be a weapon in this world.”

The backlash that the deal triggered, not least as a result of it performed an element in unseating President Marc Ravalomanana, shrank a number of future plans. Others, together with in Latin America, have been restructured into extra palatable codecs, equivalent to these primarily based on securing farms’ output slightly than the land itself.

Lex chart showing purchases by land use type

But controversial offers are nonetheless going forward. The Abu Dhabi-based Elite Agro, an enormous landowner in Serbia, has signed a deal for farmland in Madagascar. US-based African Agriculture (AAGR) has large plans for rising alfalfa in Senegal and late final 12 months inked agreements for land in Niger.

The group, which is managed by Romanian-Australian mining tycoon Frank Timis, filed to listing on Nasdaq on the finish of June. AAGR says that it has offered faculties and meals in Senegal, and is seen as a pressure for good. But some communities in Senegal are pushing again, saying the land belongs to them. They are demanding that it’s returned.

There shall be loads extra scuffles between native populations and new world landlords. But such fights are unlikely to stem the tide of land funding.

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