Transnational Institute | June 2012
Positive Investment Alternatives to Large-Scale Land Acquisitions or Leases
Welcomed by leading international financial institutions, multilateral agricultural organisations, and mega philanthropy for bringing in much needed investment to neglected rural areas, these land deals represent instances of investment in only the narrowest terms. Once the notion of investment is expanded to include not just financial but also human, social, natural and physical capital, it is clear that these land deals represent instances of appropriation rather than investment.
Adopting a political economy and rights based approach, this paper examines a range of positive alternative investments which strengthen the right to food, re-valorise agricultural work, and build up ecological capital. In all of these it is small-scale farmers who are the main protagonists, if not the main investors. Rather than seeking to discipline large-scale land acquisitions or leases through voluntary codes of conduct, it is these positive alternative investments that need strengthening. States can play a constructive role here through supportive public policies. A broader social movement based on the principles of food sovereignty and agrarian reform can help in moving the debate beyond the defence of land towards a realization of the conditions necessary to sustain farming futures.