Understanding the new wave of land grabbing in Asia and its impact on securing land rights for smallholder farmers
8 Oct 2020, 12 PM Jakarta/Bangkok via Zoom
In recent years, wealthy food-importing countries and private investors have begun acquiring farmlands overseas for the large-scale production of food, biofuel, livestock & other products. While there are no central databases or detailed statistics to gauge exactly how big the problem is, a World Bank report in 2011 found land demand to be “enormous” and identified large-scale farmland deals covering 56 million hectares in less than a year. Although African countries top the list, the areas covered in Asia are significant and continue to rise.
The new wave of land investments has two new features: one, they are much larger in scale, and two, they are spearheaded by more government-led investment than in the past. This new wave differs from the past foreign and domestic investments: it seeks resources (land, water) rather than commodities and markets; it seeks production for repatriation rather than for commercial export; and, it involves actual production rather than joint ventures or contract farming.
Meanwhile, most Asian governments enacted laws that coddled large corporations. These laws assured ease of corporate entry and return of their investments (ROI) at the expense of the people. Also, while foreign investors are typically large, wealthy transnational firms or rich governments, host countries are poor or sometimes embroiled in political and agrarian conflicts – thus raising questions about the terms and impacts of such acquisitions. Worse, in some cases local leaders are played to cheat their own constituency, farmers are made to compete with other farmers or indigenous groups, and the poor are made to fight with their own class, instead of against the elite class that causes their misery.
LWA Land Rights as Human Rights Working Group (CBI 9-10)
It is in this context that Land Watch Asia has embarked sectoral studies on land grabbing in six countries through the Land Rights as Human Rights Working Group (LRHR WG). These studies will inform in the formulation of a regional campaign strategy that CSOs (in particular Land Watch Asia) shall implement in taking effective actions against land grabbing.
Building on ILC’s commitment to People-Centered Land Governance (PCLG), the LRHR WG thus proposes to organize a sharing and learning side event during the 2020 Asia Land Forum. The event aims to:
- present and discuss the highlights of the draft sectoral landgrab studies in six countries;
- reflect and draw insights on trends and challenges on addressing land grabbing in the region; and,
- explore opportunities among participants on areas of collaboration at in-country and regional work
Date and Time
Thursday, 8 October 2020
12 PM Jakarta/Bangkok
1 PM Manila/Ulaanbaatar
11 AM Bishkek/Dhaka
10:45 AM Kathmandu
10:30 AM New Delhi