Land Grabbing

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Background

Greed for land

For some years, a new phenomenon has threatened the food security of millions of people: the sale and leasing of huge swathes of land to foreign countries and investors. Though particularly widespread in Africa and Asia, land grabbing is also on the rise in Europe.

Land grabbing affects immense tracts of land worldwide, with estimates ranging from 43 million to 200 million hectares – a landmass roughly equivalent to the size of Western Europe. A vast amount of land has been sold or leased to foreign governments, financial stakeholders, corporations and individuals since 2007- with an upward tendency. The causes are as diverse as the actors involved and the land deals themselves. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and South Korea have sought additional acreage to secure food supplies abroad for their populations in the aftermath of food crises. Likewise, financial stakeholders have discovered land and water as safe investments to weather the financial crisis. And to cash in on the biofuel boom, companies and investors have also jumped on the bandwagon to acquire land. Often, these actors work in grey areas of the law, and in a “no man’s land” between informal land rights and legal ownership. Moreover, they receive support from governments and multinational institutions seeking economic recovery and development – or simply private profit.
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What Bread for all does

  • Commitment on multiple levels: 
    Land grabbing destroys the livelihoods of millions of people. For this reason, Bread for all and its partner organisations in the South are committed to fighting the takeover of large-scale parcels of land driven by industrial agriculture.
  • Promotes networking to fight land grabbing:
    Bread for all supports partner organisations in East and West Africa and Indonesia that counter land grabbing so that impacted populations can secure their access to land. Bread for all funds initiatives and workshops that promote networking, strengthen advocacy and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience.
  • Supports pioneering work against land grabbing: 
    At the international level, Bread for all cooperates with the non-governmental organisation (NGO), Grain, which coined the term “land grabbing,” and first publicised the phenomenon. In addition to carrying out analyses and collaborating with farmers’ organisations, Grain runs a website, farmlandgrab.org, which assembles all available information on land grabbing around the world. In 2011, the NGO was awarded The Right Livelihood Award, the “alternative Nobel prize,” for its unfaltering commitment against the phenomenon of land grabbing.
  • Strengthens rural agriculture: 
    Bread for all advocates for a paradigm shift away from the predominant industrial agricultural model. The production of agricultural raw materials on large land tracts require intensive use of pesticides and fertilisers which is largely responsible for the phenomenon of land grabbing.
  • Highlights the issue of land grabbing: 
    Bread for all was the first organisation in Switzerland to raise awareness of land grabbing and introduce it into public discourse  both in the media and the general public. We also co-organised the first expert seminar on the topic in Geneva in 2009.
  • Cash flow for land grabbing projects: 
    Bread for all examines the financial holdings of Swiss banks and the public sector in land grabbing projects. It exerts pressure to stop the flow of Swiss public funds into land grabbing projects.

Our partners

silnorf
walhi logo
Synergie_Paysane
Grain
Friends_of_the_Earth
ASO

Further partners:

  • Convergence Afrique de Sud

Contact

TG
Tina Goethe

Team leader
Right to food / Climate change

031 380 65 93

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