International Policy and Regulatory Frameworks
Edited by Rosemary Rayfuse and Nicole Weisfelt
Chapter 11: ‘Land grabbing’ in the shadow of the law: legal frameworks regulating the global land rush
Over the past few years, large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and Southeast Asia have made headlines in a flurry of media reports across the world. Lands that only a short time ago seemed of little outside interest are now being sought by international investors to the tune of hundreds of thousands of hectares. And while, in 2008, the failed attempt by a South Korean company to lease 1.3 million hectares of land in Madagascar attracted much media attention, many other less publicised deals have led to large areas of land being acquired by international capital and national elites. According to the World Bank, about 10 million hectares of land were acquired between 2004 and 2009 in five African countries alone – Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Liberia and Sudan. Whilst reports of the scale of the global land rush are not always reliable due to rapidly changing contexts and limited data access, all quantitative evidence points to growing levels of land acquisitions, including in Africa. Private sector expectations of higher food and agricultural commodity prices and government concerns about longer-term food and energy security are thought to underpin much recent land acquisition for agricultural investments.
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