Land grab or development opportunity?


Agricultural investment and
international land deals in Africa

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)


Executive summary
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    The research topic and why it matters
    Scope and research methods

Trends and drivers
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    The backdrop: government support and FDI in Africa
    Trends in large-scale land deals in Africa: the media view
    Evidence from quantitative studies in five African countries
    Drivers behind the land deals
    Availability of under-utilised suitable land in Africa

Characteristics of the land deals
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    Participants and process in individual land deals
    Nature of land transfers
    Direct economic benefits of land deals
    Requirements around production models and marketing
    Investment protection
    Land takings
    Remedies for affected people

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    Summary of findings
    Recommendations for stakeholders



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. Yet international land deals and their impacts still remain little understood. This report is a step towards filling this gap. The outcome of a collaboration between IIED, FAO and IFAD, the report discusses key trends and drivers in land acquisitions, the contractual arrangements underpinning them and the way these are negotiated, and the early impacts on land access for rural people in recipient countries with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations nor the International Fund for Agricultural Development concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO or IFAD in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned. The designations developed and developing countries are intended for statistical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgement about the stage reached by a particular country or area in the development process. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of FAO or IFAD.

All rights reserved. Reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product for educational or other non-commercial purposes are authorised without any prior written permission from the copyright holders provided the source is fully acknowledged. Reproduction of material in this information product for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holders. Applications for such permission should be addressed to the Chief, Electronic Publishing Policy and Support Branch, Communication Division, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy or by e-mail to [email protected]

© FAO, IIED and IFAD, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-84369-741-1