March 1, 2012

Global Land Rush

Foreign investors are buying up farmland in developing countries

THE sharp increase in international food prices during 2007–08 triggered a spate of cross-border land acquisitions by sovereign wealth funds, private equity funds, agricultural producers, and other key players in the food and agribusiness industry—fueled by mistrust in international food markets, concern about political stability, and speculation on future demand for food.

Throughout the world, it is estimated that 445 million hectares of land are uncultivated and available for farming, compared with about 1.5 billion hectares already under cultivation (Deininger and others , 2011). About 201 million hectares are in sub-Saharan Africa, 123 million in Latin America, and 52 million in eastern Europe.

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