Large scale investments in agricultural land – historical and recent evolutions: who is profiting, who or what is developed?

Brüntrup, Michael
External Publications (2013)

in: Reiner Braun / Stephan Albrecht / Zoe Heuschkel / Francisco Mari / Julia Pippig (eds.), Future of food: state of the art, challenges and options for action, München: Oekom Verl., 119-160

ISBN: 978-3-86581-419-7

The text discusses whether and under which circumstances, large scale investments in agricultural land can lead to positive and/or negative consequences for local populations. It should be noted that a distinction is made between large scale land acquisition (LSLA) and a subsequent large scale  investment in that land (LSLI). It looks at historic experiences and recent trends of LSLAs and LSLIs to understand which rationales are at work, which stakeholders are involved (within and outside the investments, including a look at the particular political economy), which economic success they had and which factors were responsible for it, and finally which impacts it had on smallholder farmers and rural development. It finds many critical examples where rural communities have been losing, and structural problems which make this outcome likely. However, there are economic trends such as technology development, standardization and globalization of agricultural value chains which reduce competitiveness and market entry of smallholders and will increase pressure on land for large investors. These niches are sometimes difficult to capture for smallholders, and banning of large farming would exclude countries form these value chains. In addition, there are ways to make LSLIs more inclusive, these are elaborated and recommended in the text. The paper concludes that there is room for coexistence of small and large farms, with a preference for the first and a partial (economic) necessity for the latter.

About the author

Brüntrup, Michael

Agricultural Economy


Further experts