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Foreign investments in agriculture for food security

The level of investment in agriculture is positively correlated with food security and poverty reduction. Regrettably, agricultural investment in developing countries decreased sharply over the last decades. Substantial increases are needed to eradicate hunger and poverty, create decent jobs and livelihood opportunities and ensure environmental sustainability. As the largest on-farm investors, farmers must be central to agricultural investment strategies. Their investments must be stimulated and complemented by governmental and donor investments in public goods.

Investments by companies along the entire value chain also play an important role. However, the benefits of agricultural investments will not arise automatically and some forms carry risks for local communities and the environment. FAO promotes responsible investment in agriculture through empirical research and by supporting various consultation processes.

What do we know about international agricultural investments?

Challenges and opportunities of foreign investment in developing country agriculture for sustainable development

This paper describes challenges, opportunities and determinants of foreign investment in developing country agriculture for sustainable development. Options and good practices for generation of mutual benefits and prevention and mitigation of risks are presented. 

Impacts of foreign agricultural investment in developing countries: evidence from case studies
This paper summarizes the results of FAO’s case studies on the impacts of foreign agricultural investment on host communities and countries. The studies suggest that the disadvantages of large-scale land acquisitions often outweigh the few benefits to the local community. Conversely, investments that involve local farmers as equal business partners can have significant positive and sustainable effects on local economies and social development.

The Practice of Responsible Investment Principles in Larger-Scale Agricultural Investments - Implications for corporate performance and impact on local communities
This UNCTAD and World Bank report examines 39 agribusiness investments and assesses to what extent their activities can be characterized as responsible in terms of respect for local rights, consultation, support of livelihoods, sustainability, etc. The lessons learned and good practices identified are intended to inform the work by different actors to promote responsible agricultural investment.

Trends and impacts of foreign investment in developing country agriculture – Evidence from case studies
This publication examines the trends in agricultural FDI and its economic, social and environmental benefits and risks and at the national and local levels, as well as the determinants of these impacts. Download as e-book or PDF.

A contribution to the analyses of the effects of foreign agricultural investment on the food sector and trade in Sub-Saharan Africa
This paper analyzes the likely effects of foreign agricultural investment in Sub- Saharan Africa with a focus on the impacts on the food sector by simulating the effects of the reduction of investment risks triggering an entry of foreign investment flow.

The state of food and agriculture 2012 - Investing in agriculture for a better future
Investing in agriculture is essential for reducing hunger and promoting sustainable agricultural production. Those parts of the world where agricultural capital per worker and public investments in agriculture have stagnated are the epicentres of poverty and hunger today.

International Investments in Agriculture in the Near East: Evidence from Egypt, Morocco and Sudan
This publication was motivated by the surge in international investments in agriculture and the need to answer some key policy questions through a brief review of international investments in the region, and an exploratory analysis of the issues and challenges.