It’s been labelled ‘the Earth’s final round-up’. Investors are seeking to annex forests and farmland, anticipating food shortages, dwindling oil stocks and poor financial returns elsewhere.
We are four years into the phenomenon. And while the pace has slowed, the global rush for land in the developing world is still on. In next month’s issue of New Internationalist, we travel to Mozambique – one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, where the drive to investment is intense. We meet rural communities dispossessed by powerful companies, speak to subsistence farmers at odds with Scandinavian foresters,
Indian rice giants and biofuel projects. But, as well as the woes, we will hear about growing South-South resistance to unbalanced deals.
Land grabs lie at the heart of development debates today. Will Majority World nations take the easy option, outsourcing agriculture and buying into the quick-fix private-sector promise to end poverty? Or will they tackle
hunger direct, by supporting long-neglected smallholder farmers? Do ‘win-win’ deals even exist? The path that governments choose will determine whether the peasants of today hold on to community land rights or become landless labourers of the future.