By Stephen Leahy*
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, USA, May 5 (Tierramérica)
More than 20 million hectares of farmland in Africa and Latin America are now in the hands of foreign governments and companies, a sign of a global “land grab” that got a boost from last year’s food crisis.
Rich countries that are short on land or water at home are looking to secure food-producing lands elsewhere as a way to ensure food security for their populations, said Joachim von Braun, director of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
“There is a major lack of transparency in these land deals,” von Braun said in a telephone press conference from Washington.
The IFPRI study, “‘Land Grabbing’ by Foreign Investors in Developing Countries,” by von Braun and Ruth Meinzen-Dick, which was presented last week, estimates that 15 to 20 million hectares have been acquired or are in the process of being sold.
Von Braun pointed out that this is equivalent to about 25 percent of all the farmland in Europe.
Because hard data is difficult to come by – the study was based primarily on information from press reports – IFPRI conservatively estimates that the deals represent 20 to 30 billion dollars being invested by China, South Korea, India and the Gulf States, mainly in Africa.
“About one-quarter of these investments are for biofuel plantations,” von Braun said. Continue reading