Land grabbing refers to the phenomenon of large-scale land acquisitions, the buying or leasing of large plots of land in developing countries – and developed countries -, by domestic and transnational companies, foreign governments, and individuals.
While the term has been used before throughout history, land grabbing as used today refers primarily to the rush for large-scale land acquisitions occurring since the 2007-2008 world food price crisis. In evoking food security fears within the developed world and prompting newfound economic opportunities for agricultural investors and speculators, the food price crisis led to a dramatic peak in large-scale agricultural investments. Most of these land agricultural investments are in the Global South, in Sub-Saharan Africa with 70% in Southeast Asia and Latin America, are foreign in nature and occur for the purpose of crop and bio-fuels production.
Initially hailed by investors and some developing countries as a new pathway towards agricultural development, investment in land has recently been criticized by a number of civil society, governmental, and multinational actors for the various negative impacts that it has had in many instances on local communitiesi.
Land grabbing is an ambiguous activity because:
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