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The international political economy of the global land rush: A critical appraisal of trends, scale, geography and drivers

Lorenzo Cotula

Journal article

Over the past few years, agribusiness, investment funds and government agencies have been acquiring long-term rights over large areas of farmland in lower income countries. It is widely thought that private sector expectations of higher agricultural commodity prices and government concerns about longer-term food and energy security underpin much recent land acquisition for agricultural investments. These processes are expected to have lasting and far-reaching implications for world agriculture and for livelihoods and food security in recipient countries. This paper critically examines evidence of trends, scale, geography and drivers in the global land rush. While this analysis broadly corroborates some widespread assumptions, it also points to a more complex set of drivers that reflect fundamental shifts in economic and geopolitical relations linking sovereign states, global finance, and agribusiness through to local groups. Only a solid understanding of these fundamental drivers can help identify levers and pressure points for policy responses to address the challenges raised by large-scale land acquisitions.

IIED worked on this article under its Legal tools for citizen empowerment project.

Publication information

  • External: X00089
  • Published: Apr 2012 - Taylor & Francis
  • Theme: Land acquisitions and rights
  • Source pub: Journal of Peasant Studies
  • Journal ref: Vol.39, Issue 3, 1-32
  • Language: English

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