Increasingly, the land deals are coming under the scrutiny of the UN and watchdog groups such as Grain, the International Land Coalition and the IFPRI. That's because it is not obvious that they are win-win situations.
Over the past few years Laos has seen a surge of foreign investment in farms and plantations from neighboring countries keen to acquire rubber, sugar, and other agricultural commodities. Under this project, noncommercial details of land concession awards will be posted on a public website to improve transparency, while the commercial terms will be kept in a confidential database for monitoring compliance.
The global food and financial crises have combined to create a new form of colonialism in which countries short of resources and corporations desperate for profits are buying up arable land in emerging nations, NGOs say. The non-governmental organisations have expressed concern at this "global land grab," which they say is threatening the survival of rural livelihoods in some parts of the world.
Mitsui & Co., Japan's second-largest trading company, may increase investment in farming overseas to secure food supplies as competition from China, the biggest grain consumer, intensifies. The company is seeking new targets after taking a 39.35 percent stake in Multigrain AG, which produces soybeans in Brazil, the world's second-largest grower.
The initial welcome given to rich countries’ investment in African farmland by agricultural and development officials has faded as the first ventures prove to be heavily weighted in favour of the investors. The FAO warned of such a trend when it said this year that the race to secure farmland overseas risked creating a “neo-colonial” system.
The owners of Multigrain, a leading Brazil-based agricultural commodity business, announced today the company has acquired 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of farmland and related processing operations intended to strengthen its ability to serve customers around the world.
Japanese food corporations are stepping up their diversification and security of food sources, in particular taking ownership of the entire supply chain, from owning the farms in other countries, through to the processing and distribution of the food stuffs.