Land Use






by Raul Cazan

In 2006, as reporter, I had the joy to meet and interview Carlo Petrini. At the time I was very ideological, very much oriented towards the left and I was a little reluctant when it came to Slow Food. I thought it was another elitist concept beautifully designed for bourgeois slackers and their selective consumerism. When Petrini started talking I was stunned: it revealed that Slow Food is primarily about social justice and respect for biodiversity. The uptight interview that I was preparing for turned into a friendly discussion – jokingly, he said we were colleagues as we both graduated at the University of Trento in Italy, although with three decades in between. We talked a lot for almost an hour, I was also pretty lucky because I spoke Italian and I was able to enjoy his discursive avalanche. At the end of the meeting he offered me a copy of “Buono, pulito e giusto” and that night I devoured it.


In a couple of months I went to Terra Madre in Turin, an incredible gathering of food communities from all over the world, something that Petrini named “the United Nations of peasants”. This is where we laid the foundations of Slow Food Bucharest.

One of my favorite philosophers, Murray Bookchin, said “…just as capitalist farming has ‘created’ an ‘average’ agriculture, so it has created an ‘average’ farm worker. Wherever the farmer has been dispossessed by huge corporate growers, he has also been replaced by rural laborers who view the intimate problems of crop management with complete indifference.”  Now, small farming (slow food production) does not offer any protection, however it conserves a whole lot of knowledge and the high numbers of people that are members and have empathy for the Slow Food’s core values give the organization political power, in a broad sense.



food-driven investments / biofuel production / agricultural speculation*

Food-driven investments
Two kinds of actors operate in this field, which accounts for roughly one third of all land grabs worldwide. State-owned investment funds, often from the Gulf region, invest in agricultural lands overseas to respond to national food security issues. These Sovereign Wealth Funds (find out more here) have initiated a number of land grabs, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
Agribusinesses are the foot soldiers of land investments; they are commissioned by investors to execute the work onsite but increasingly become active out of self-initiative acquiring agricultural land themselves. The agricultural sector is especially attractive for these businesses because it allows for a diversification of their portfolios which is at the same time risk-reducing. Agribusinesses can not only invest in agricultural land and production but also in processing and distribution and are thus able to extend their control of the food supply chain.

Rising oil prices and interest in renewable energy sources have caused a significant increase in biofuel production over the past ten years. In some countries, subsidies have made growing crops for fuel more attractive than growing for food, causing land to be diverted away from food production. This directly influences food supply and thus plays an important part in the distortion of food prices. More the 50 per cent of land-grabbing deals are for growing biofuels, according to the Land Rights and the Rush for Land report released in December 2011 by 40 organizations. Campaigners say ‘land grabbing’ is being driven by EU targets to source 10 per cent of all transport fuels for buses and cars from biofuels rather than conventional fossil fuels by 2020.

Agricultural speculation 
As the financial markets collapsed in the face of the 2008 economic crisis, fund managers and investors began to shift from pure financial assets like real estate to agricultural land or soft commodities such as energy and food crops. They were deemed more profitable and less risky for two key reasons:
• Increasingly high food prices lead to increasing land rents, which encouraged turning investments to cheap land in developing countries.
• Rising incentives for agricultural production caused by an increasing global demand for food and an ongoing exhaustion of resources like water and land suitable for agricultural production.
In particular, hedge funds and private equity funds have since purchased or leased land on these speculative terms.





IIED, FAO and IFAD, 2009 –Land grab or development opportunity? Agricultural investment and international land deals in Africa

Oakland Institute, 2009 – The Great Land Grab: Rush for World’s Farmland Threatens Food Security for the Poor

Oxfam, 2011 – Land and Power: The growing scandal surrounding the new wave of investments in land  Español  Français

International Land Coalition, 2011 – Land Rights and the Rush for Land

FoEE, 2012 – Farming Money: how European banks and private finance profit from food speculation and land grabs

The Gaia foundation, 2012 – Opening Pandora’s Box – A New Wave of Land Grabbing for the Extractive Industries and The Devastating Impact on Earth


Glopolis, 2012 – Land grabs in Africa – a threat to food security


Transnational Institute, for European Coordination Via Campesina and Hands off the Land network, 2013 – Land concentration,land grabbing and people’s struggles in Europe


Re:Common, Solidarité des Intervenants sur le Foncier – SIF, Collectif pour la défense des terres malgaches – TANY, 2013 – Land grabbing in Madagascar: Echoes and testimonies from the field


Via Campesina, 2013 – Land is life


TNI, 2013 – Old Story, New Threat:Fracking and the global land grab


TNI, 2013 – The Netherlands and the Global Land and Water Grab


TNI, 2013, The Global Land Grab
Estudio de la FAO halla intensos procesos de concentración y extranjerización de tierras en América Latina y el Caribe
Sergio Gómez E.  – Reflexiones sobre la dinámica reciente del mercado de la tierra en América Latina y el Caribe

Miguel Murmis y María Rosa Murmis – El Caso de Argentina

Via Campesina, 2013 – ¡La tierra es vida!


TNI,2013 – El acaparamiento global de tierras



Oxfam Italia – Chi ci prende la terra ci prende la vita


Liliana Mosca – Università di Napoli – Dal “silenzioso tsunami” sui beni di prima necessità all’accaparramento delle terre nel sud del mondo: il “caso Daewoo Logistic Corporation” nel Madagascar



Re:Common, Solidarité des Intervenants sur le Foncier – SIF, Collectif pour la défense des terres malgaches – TANY, 2013 – Land grabbing in Madagascar: Echoes and testimonies from the field


Transnational Institute, Eco Ruralis and Hands off the Land network, 2013 – L’accaparement des terres en Roumanie, menaces pour les territoires ruraux


Via Campesina, 2013 – La terre, c’est la vie!


TNI, 2013 – L’Accaparement des Terres, Planète (pas) à vendre




Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, FAO, May 2012
Pension funds involved in global largescale farmland aquisitions as of June 2012, GRAIN, June 2012




Friends of the Earth Int (FOE)


International Land Coalition


Oakland Institute 

La Via Campesina 

Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC-Vía Campesina)

Food First 


Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice, by Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel with Annie Shattuck, Fahumu Books and Grassroots International

The Great Food Robbery, by GRAIN


Biofuels, Land Grabbing and Food Security in Africa, edited by Prosper B. Matondi, Kjell Havnevik and Atakilte Beyene


The Land Grabbers, The New Fight over Who Owns the Earth, by Fred Pearce, Beacon Press


Landgrabbing: Journeys in the New Colonialism, by Stefano Liberti, Verso


Land Grabbing and Global Governance, by Jun Borras, Matias E. Margulis & Nora, McKeon


The Role of the State in the Rush for Land, Wiley-Blackwell

2033, Atlas des futurs du monde, by Virginie Raisson


Main basse sur la terre. land grabbing et nouveau colonialisme, by Stefano Liberti, Rue de l’échiquier

Food Rebellions, by Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel

Food Movements Unite!, collection of essays by Eric Hol-Giménez

2033 – Atlante dei futuri del mondo, by Virginie Raisson

Land grabbing, by Stefano Liberti, Minimum Fax

Il nuovo colonialismo. Caccia alle terre coltivabili, by Franca Roiatti, Università Bocconi

Le guerre del Cibo. Come l’Occidente ha creato una crisi alimentare globale, by  Walden Bello, Nuovi Mondi



Landraub, by Stefano Liberti, Rotbuch Verlag


ASO/EJOLT/GRAIN | Grabbing Gambela


A video inspired by an APRODEV report on land grabbing in Cambodia | Stolen Land Stolen Future


Hugo Berkeley and Osvalde Lewat | Land Rush


TNI | Seeds of Discontent Documentary film on Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch investors in Mozambique land grab
Alexis Marant | Une planète à vendre

RAI 3, Report | Corsa alla terra


Alfredo Bini for BBC |Land leasing or land grabbing?

Salena Tramel and La Via Campesina in The Guardian | Farmers meet to tackle ‘land grabs’

Alfredo Bini for Corriere della Sera | Nuove colonie d’Africa