08 May 2011

Land Grabs ~ Economist Spots Damning Evidence

The Economist spotlights The surge in land deals: When others are grabbing their land...
"Evidence is piling up against acquisitions of farmland in poor countries [...] When deals [...] first came to international attention in 2009, it was unclear whether they were “land grabs or development opportunities”, to quote a study published that year. Supporters claimed they would bring seeds, technology and capital to some of the world’s poorest lands. Critics, such as the director of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, dubbed them “neo-colonialist”. But no one had hard evidence to back up their claims. Now they do. Two years on, a conference at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of the University of Sussex, the biggest of its kind so far, examined over 100 land deals. Most judgments are damning. [...] What makes land grabs unusual is their combination of high levels of corruption with low levels of benefit. Ruth Meinzen-Dick, one of the authors of the IFPRI study, says that in 2009 the balance of costs and benefits was genuinely unclear. Now, she argues, the burden of evidence has shifted and it is up to the proponents of land deals to show that they work. At the moment, they have precious few examples to point to."
Not good. I wonder can deals be structured in a participatory way such that locals would benefit economically and socially?

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