Around the world, farmers are losing their lands, often violently, to large companies and speculators who see farmland as a lucrative investment. But what are the complex mechanisms behind these processes? Could your pension fund be contributing to land grabbing in places like Brazil? This animated video shows how a global farmland fund, managed by US financial giant TIAA-CREF, used a complex company structure to avoid restrictions on foreign investment in farmland in Brazil. It then acquired lands from a Brazilian businessman who has used violence and fraud to grab large areas of farmland from small farmers and indigenous peoples.
European and US development funds are bankrolling palm oil company Feronia Inc despite land and labour conflicts at its plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). New information now raises questions as to whether the Canadian-based company misused millions of taxpayer dollars destined for international aid by way of companies connected to a high-level DRC politician.
Lack of access to land is one of the most serious problems facing rural women in Latin America and around the world—and is the cause of numerous other problems that are often “invisible” for society at large. Its consequences affect women everywhere, humanity in general and the planet. This issue of Against the grain explores the conditions of oppression and exclusion that rural women experience throughout Latin America and the impacts of patriarchy including the gendered division of labour, the invisibilisation of women’s work and the exploitation of both women and men. The piece also addresses women’s ongoing struggle for the right to land at a time when the role of women is increasingly recognised as central to the reproduction of peasant agriculture and to solving the problem of global hunger.
When the European colonizers invaded Central and West Africa during the nineteenth century, they came to understand (in a very narrow way) the possible wealth that could be generated from oil palm cultivation. They began taking over the local people’s large oil palm groves and tearing down forests to set up plantations. One of the pioneers of this effort was Britain’s Lord Leverhulme, who, through a campaign of terror against the local people, took over community palm groves and turned vast swathes of the Congo’s forests into slave plantations. His company’s oil palm plantations would eventually expand throughout West and Central Africa and then to Southeast Asia, and provide the foundation for the multinational corporation Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies.
Eight years after releasing its first report on land grabbing, which put the issue on the international agenda, GRAIN publishes a new dataset documenting nearly 500 cases of land grabbing around the world. Over the past several years, GRAIN staff and allies in different regions have been tracking media and other information sources on a daily basis and posting reports on land grab developments to the open-publishing platform farmlandgrab.org. We used this website as the basis for constructing this dataset, which holds 491 land deals covering over 30 million hectares spanning 78 countries. This new research shows that, while some deals have fallen by the wayside, the global farmland grab is far from over. Rather, it is in many ways deepening, expanding to new frontiers and intensifying conflict around the world. We hope this updated dataset will be useful tool for movements, communities, researchers and activists fighting against land grabbing and defending community-based food systems.
A new video provides a window onto the reality of women-led artisanal palm oil production, a reality often rendered invisible in narratives of global industrial palm oil. This model is under threat by the rapid advance of industrial plantations, free trade agreements and corporate-controlled value chains at the expense of community-based food systems.
We are 40 participants who have united in Mundemba, Cameroon, for an international workshop on the tactics and strategies of oil palm companies, from 28 to 31 January 2016. We have gathered to share our experiences from Cameroon, West and Central Africa, Asia and South America, and to understand the realities of the local communities in Ndian Division, Southwest Region of Cameroon. We share the concerns of local communities regarding the growing interest in community land for corporate oil palm plantations.
A New York company managing the retirement savings of workers in Sweden, the US and Canada is evading Brazilian laws on foreign investment to acquire farmlands from a businessman accused of violently displacing local communities
Rules on how to “responsibly” invest in farmland are popping up all over the place, from corporate boardrooms to UN meeting halls. But do they really help communities whose lands are being targeted or do they just help investors and the governments that are complicit with them? Where should we—as social movements trying to support communities—focus our efforts? Does it make sense to fight land grabbing by adopting rules on how to do it more responsibly? In this discussion paper, GRAIN aims to stimulate reflection and discussion on these important questions.
How did several of the world's most prominent DFIs come to own Feronia Inc., a Canadian agribusiness company that people in the DRC say is illegally occupying their land, subjecting them to horrific work in plantations and leaving their communities destitute?