Land grab in Latin America and the Caribbean


Published on

Debate over the phenomenon of land grabbing under the perspective of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Presented at Internazionale a Ferrara in oct 2013.
Vitor Bukvar Fernandes

Published in: Business, Technology
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Land grab in Latin America and the Caribbean

  1. 1. Land grab in Latin America Vitor Bukvar Fernandes Economic Development PhD candidate and researcher at University of Campinas, Brazil (Unicamp)
  2. 2. Overview 1. Recent land grabs in the global context 1. 2. 2. Convergence of global crises and land grab Land grab as a catch-all phrase Land grabs in Latin America and the Caribbean 1. 2. General characteristics of the land grab in the region 3. 3. Some numbers on the region Recent localized problems Conclusions and possible ways forward
  3. 3. 1. Recent land grabs and the global context 1.1. Drivers of the land grab:  There is a convergence of global crises since 20072008:  Financial  Environmental  Energy  Food  This led to a dramatic revaluation of land, especially in the global South.  The convergence of „peak oil‟, anthropogenic climate change and persistent hunger are located within capital‟s need for continuous expanded accumulation. (Borras and Franco, 2013)
  4. 4. 1. Recent land grabs and the global context 1.2. Land grab as a “catch-all phrase”  “Global land grab” has emerged as a catch-all phrase that refers to transnational land transactions and land speculation in recent years, mainly around the large-scale production and export of food and biofuels.  Speaking loosely, there are 3 positions on land grabs: 1. Regulate to facilitate 2. Regulate to mitigate negative impacts and maximize opportunities 3. Regulate to block and rollback land grabbing  There are some positions representing the extremes (World Bank, Via Campesina, for example), but the majority is somewhere in between the first and the last positions.
  5. 5. 1. Recent land grabs and the global context  “What we have at the moment and what we are likely to witness in the future is a three-way political battle to control the character, parameters, and trajectory of discourse, as well as the instruments in and the practice of global governance of land grabbing.” (Borras, Franco and Wang, 2013:175)
  6. 6. 2. Land grabs in Latin America and the Caribbean 2.1. Some numbers on the region  Population (2012): 581.4 million.  Urban population (% of population, 2012): 79%.  Surface area (2011): 1,946.08 million ha.  Forest area (2011): 923.97 million ha or 48.1% of land area.  Agricultural land (2011): 709.32 million ha or 36.9% of land area.  Global land grabbed:  Oxfam (2011) estimates 227 million hectares (70% in Africa).  International Land Coalition (ILC, 2011) estimates 80 million hectares.  World Bank (2010) estimates 45 million hectares.  Harvested area of flex crops (South America only):  In 2000 - 24 million ha of soya, 6 million ha of sugarcane, 0,35 million of oilpalm.  In 2009 – 42 million ha of soya, 10 million of sugarcane, 0,5 million of oilpalm.
  7. 7. 2.2. General characteristics of the land grab in Latin America and the Caribbean  The four common dimensions of the land grab are present in the region (food production, biofuels, other climate change mitigation and speculative capital).  These are the motives for the popularity of investment in “flex-crops”.  The actors in land grabbing under the spotlight in Africa (China, India, South Korea, Gulf States) have marginal presence in Latin America.  Land grabbing (by foreigners) and expulsion of people from their lands:  Occurs in pockets of expulsions, but the scale of them is relatively low.  Incorporation of rural labourers into the emerging commercial farms, commodity chain, and industrial plantations are more common.  In most countries exploitation by foreigners is not acceptable but exploitation of the rural workers by the domestic elites (landlords and capitalists) is tolerated.
  8. 8. 2.2. General characteristics of the land grab in Latin America and the Caribbean • Results of the Food and Agriculture Organization studies for Latin America and the Caribbean: Source: FAO, 2011. Compiled by Borras et al, 2012.
  9. 9. 2.2. General characteristics of the land grab in Latin America and the Caribbean  FAO studies in the region (concluded in late 2011):  Definition of land grab is too restrictive - they used 3 criteria of analysis:  recent large-scale land acquisitions (1000 ha+);  involvement of foreign governments in these land deals;  negative impact of such land investments on food security of the recipient country.  According to these definitions:  Land grab occurs only in Brazil and Argentina.  There were no negative impacts on food security.
  10. 10. 2.2. General characteristics of the land grab in Latin America and the Caribbean  Borras et al (2012) used the same data produced by the FAO studies but widened the definitions:  Land grab as “control grab” (grabbing the power to control land and other associated resources).  Land grab as large-scale transactions (scale of land acquisitions and/or scale of capital involved) – includes purchase, lease, forest conservation, etc.  Historical specificity of the actual land grabs are the focus on “flex-crops”.
  11. 11. 2.2. General characteristics of the land grab in Latin America and the Caribbean • The different results found by the cited authors: Source: Borras et al, 2012.
  12. 12. 2.2. General characteristics of the land grab in Latin America and the Caribbean  High intensity of land grab:  Occurring in 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.  “Land grabbed land grabbers”:  Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Mexico and Costa Rica have major land investors into other countries in Latin America.  Strong inter-regional character of the land grabbing:  Trans-Latin American Corporations (TLCs) are of two types: single origin (Latin American) or an alliance of 2+ nationals (Trans-Latin American).  These studies show that investors do not “always look for marginal, empty lands” as in World Bank (2010).  Instead they tend to go where there are existing productive lands with water supply and transport infrastructure.
  13. 13. 3. Some recent examples of localized land grab problems  Expansion of oil palm in Colombia linked to dispossession by paramilitary activities in contested lands. (Ballvè, 2011; Grajales 2011)  Brazilian-based companies grabbing land in Colombia. (Mackey, 2011)  Brazilian and Argentinean natural and juridical persons buying or leasing lands in Paraguay is creating recurring tension between them and the locals. (Galeano, 2012)  A large land grab is currently underway in the state of Piauí, Brazil – approximately 3 million hectares of which 1 has already been grabbed in the last 2 years, by foreign and national players. (field research, 2013)
  14. 14. 3. Conclusions and possible ways forward  “Land grab” is a way too general term, when used it should be precisely defined to avoid misunderstandings.  The media tend to associate the “land grab” phenomenon with speculative movements by financial capital, or with food-security strategies (capital-rich, resource-poor countries grabbing land in capital-poor, resource-rich countries).  The Latin American case shows that these are not the only drivers of the global land rush, there are at least four key drivers for the land grabs:  Food security initiatives,  Energy/fuel security ventures,  Other climate change mitigation strategies  Resource demands from newer hubs of global capital.
  15. 15. 3. Conclusions and possible ways forward  Land is, at the same time, a speculative and productive asset – thus, land policies need to be directed toward the regulation of unbridled speculation with land instead of attempting to repress or prevent it outright.  The global land rush can be very dangerous to the rural poor if not controlled, thus:  Urgent responses are needed because of its impacts  But, at the same time, a focus on non-rushed, deep empirical research is also needed given the poor reliability of the current datasets.  The focus on land in the “land grab” is problematic - it should also include the scale/intensity of capital invested.  The next step to a more comprehensive analysis of the phenomena is studying the relation of the large land deals and the terms of incorporation of the rural workers (adverse, favorable, somewhere in between, etc).
  16. 16.  Literature cited and used: Ballvè, T., (2011). Territory by Dispossession: Decentralization, Statehood, and The Narco Land-Grab in Colombia, Mackey, L., 2011. Legitimating Foreignization in Bolivia: Brazilian Agriculture and the Relations of Conflict and Consent in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Borras, S.; Franco, J. (2012). Global land grabbing and trajectories of agrarian change: a preliminary analysis. Journal of Agrarian Change, vol. 12, no. 1, Jan. 2012, pp. 34-59. Oya, C. (2013). Methodological reflections on „land grab‟ databases and the „land grab‟ literature „rush‟, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 40:3, 503-520, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2013.799465. Borras, S.; Franco, J.; Gómez, S.; Kay, C.; Spoor, M. (2012). Land Grabbing in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 39, n. 3-4, July-October 2012, 845-872. Urioste, M. (2012). Concentration and „foreignization‟ of land in Bolivia, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, 33(4), pp. 439– 457. Deininger, K. (2011). Forum on global land grabbing: challenges posed by the new wave of farmland investment. Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(2), 217–47. Wilkinson, J; Reydon, B.P.; di Sabbato, A. (2010). Dinâmica do Mercado de terras na América Latina: o caso do Brasil. FAO. 2010. Galeano, L. (2012). Paraguay and the expansion of the Brazilian and Argentinian agribusiness frontiers, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, 33(4), pp. 458–470. Wilkinson, J., Reydon, B., di Sabbato, A. (2012). Concentration and foreign ownership of land in Brazil in the context of global land grabbing phenomenon, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, 33(4), pp. 417–438. Grajales, J., (2011). „The Rifle and the Title: Paramilitary Violence and Land Control in Colombia‟. Journal of Peasant Studies, 38 (4): 771–92. World Bank. (2010). Rising global interest in farmland: can it yield sustainable and equitable benefits?. Washington DC: World Bank. Highquest Partners. (2010). Private Financial Sector Investment in Farmland and Agricultural Infrastructure. New York: HighQuest Partners. Collected on January, 2013 at: playdocumentpdf/?cote=TAD/CA/APM/WP(2010 )11/FINAL&docLanguage=En World Bank. (2011). Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011.