A new report published collaboratively by the FAO, IIED and IFAD analyzes a recent trend in large scale acquisition of land in sub-Saharan Africa by international investors. Land grab or development opportunity? Agricultural investment and international land deals in Africa draws on a literature review, on qualitative interviews with key informants internationally, on national inventories of approved and proposed land acquisitions since 2004 in five African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali and Sudan), as well as qualitative case studies in Mozambique and Tanzania, and on legal analysis of applicable law and of a small sample of land deals.
The authors identify food security concerns, increasing use of biofuels, agricultural rates of return and policy reforms that have improved attractiveness of investments as drivers in this trend. They point out the risks and conditions that accompany these land transfers and recommend improved mechanisms to ensure transparency and better understanding of contracting processes.