The food price crises of recent years have unleashed a global land rush. Between 2000 and 2010, foreign investors negotiated to lease or acquire at least 71 million hectares of land—an area slightly larger than France—in other countries. Nearly half of this total is in Africa. A recent International Land Coalition (ILC) report, Land Rights and the Rush for Land, to which IFPRI contributed, says the number and size of recent deals point to the “unprecedented scale of the land rush over the past decade.”
For some people, these land deals represent attractive opportunities to inject much-needed capital into the agricultural sector of poor developing countries. For others, the deals are a disturbing trend in which investors from wealthy countries snap up land in poor countries for their own benefit, displacing and threatening the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and other local people who use the land.