World Bank: Despite benefits, large farm deals wreak harm


Dow Jones Newswires | 7 September 2010


WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- An exponential increase in large-scale land purchases in developing countries offers significant economic opportunity but may be wreaking harm on vulnerable populations, the World Bank warned Tuesday.

Fueled by high food prices, international agriculture firms are seeking to capitalize on inexpensive land deals, buying up millions of hectares of arable land in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

While such large-scale farmland deals can benefit populations in developing countries as more modern practices multiply production, many governments don't have safeguards in place to protect indigenous landowners or farmers.

The World Bank said countries need to establish new foreign-investment criteria that better recognize land rights, and governments should play a stronger role in developing land-acquisition policies. There's also a need for greater public disclosure on land deals, allowing broader access to information for watchdog organizations.

The World Bank believes radical productivity improvements on farms throughout developing countries are essential for cutting poverty and feeding undernourished populations.

"When done right, larger-scale farming systems can also have a place as one of many tools to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development, and can directly support smallholder productivity," it said.

But, the bank added, "the risks associated with such investments are immense." Recent large farmland purchases "have raised serious concerns about the danger of neglecting local rights" and are spurring questions over the long-term benefits to local populations and actual contributions to poverty-reduction, the bank said.

In many cases, local landowners weren't consulted about the sale of their properties, and if they were contacted, consultations "were superficial and did not result in written agreements."

Around 45 million hectares of farmland deals were announced by the end of 2009, far outstripping the average annual expansion of global agriculture land of 4 million hectares before 2008.

Only a fifth of the announced lands deals have since seen actual farming. In many of the land deals reviewed by the bank, there was often little--if any-- compensation for the loss of land rights, and a limited capacity to enforce environmental or social safeguards.

"These large land acquisitions can come at a high cost," said World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. "The veil of secrecy that often surrounds these land deals must be lifted so poor people don't ultimately pay the heavy price of losing their land," he said.

Bank officials said the organization is working with governments to put its recommended principles into practice. It's also urging development of an international agreement such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to encourage greater accountability in foreign agriculture investments. Under the EITI, companies and countries provide information on mining and petroleum deals as part of an effort to combat fraud.
Original source: Dow Jones


  1. anonymous
    17 Sep 2010

    This is a message for the World Bank, is a reminder that the Mexicans, them like for others to respect, its independence and freedom, of that the mexicans them makes both a boast, the Mexicans they say, that them will to fight, to anyone whom does not respect its independence, the Mexicans them will send it, to kill to those, whom lend forengine money, the Mexicans them believe that, is not respecting their independence, economicaly and politicaly, the World Bank those, must to respect, them economic and independence of the Mexicans, should not get in trouble with many countries, poor whom do not want to pay, any loan of money from before, not forcing other people's money to lend, they do not want the Mexicans, Mexicans should also respect the independence, from other countries economics and politics, even so, the rich countries are not necessarily a rich countrym for them should help to a poor country, that's it is a lack of respect for poor countries, the rich countries them worked more, for thmw to be better people and for them own public,, them are rich countries with more education, the poor countries them live them life, through spending every day as holidays, even without money, the live in the middle of liquor. them are poor countries, with less education, the United Nations must respect the independence of Mexico. And not to put in conflict to tread outside the lives of others. many them ask, then why ?, the mexicans them call for help to many countries, it like to the northamerican country, is that a militar trap?.

  2. anonymous
    17 Sep 2010

    Este es un mensaje para el banco mundial, es para recordarles que a los mexicanos, les gusta que les respeten su independencia y libertad, pues de eso hacen tanto, alarde, los mexicanos dicen que ellos, pelearan a cualquiera que no respeten su independencia, los mexicanos ellos mandan asesinar a los que les prestan dinero extranjero, los mexicanos opinan que eso es no respetar su independencia, económica y política, el banco mundial debe de respetar la independencia económica del país de México, no deben de meter en problemas con países pobres que no quieren pagar, y no obligar a prestar dinero ajeno, que no quieren los mexicanos, también mexicanos deberían de respetar la independencia, económica y política de otros países, aun así, sean países ricos, no necesariamente un país rico debe de ayudar a un país pobre, eso es falta de respeto de los piases pobres, los países ricos trabajan mas para ser gente mejor, y con mas educación, los países pobres viven en medio de las fiestas aun sin dinero, viven en medio del licor, son gente con menos educación, las naciones unidas deben de respetar la independencia de los mexicanos. Y no meter en conflicto a pises ajenos a la vidas de otros países.

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