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Understanding agricultural investment chains: Lessons to improve governance

Recent years have seen renewed private and public sector interest in developing country agriculture. A new wave of large-scale acquisitions of farmland has taken place for plantation agriculture in Africa, Asia and Latin America, fuelled by changing agricultural commodity prices, expectations of rising land values and public policies to promote long-term food and energy security. Despite emerging evidence on certain features of these land deals, uncertainty still surrounds the actors, relations, processes and incentives involved. What is increasingly clear is that, rather than a transaction between a provider and an acquirer of land, each deal may in fact involve a complex web of multiple parties.

The concept of an ‘investment chain’ offers a useful tool to visualise this. Drawing on 10 case studies of recent large-scale land deals, this report aims to improve understanding of the investment chains that underpin the deals, and to identify pressure points for effective public action to ensure that investments respond to local and national development agendas and promote inclusive sustainable development. Properly implementing the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security is an important step in that direction.

This report has been produced under IIED’s Legal tools for citizen empowerment project.

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