Land and times are changing. It used to be that the ongoing large-scale land acquisition in Africa was predominantly by internal privatization and land grabs by postcolonial political and military elites. Before that, land grabs by foreigners was among the classic forms of colonialism. Now the trend synthesizes those legacies in a new form with foreign investors claiming hundreds of thousands of hectares of fertile African lands as their hedge against food insecurity at home.
Four researchers have now produced the first major report on this trend under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO) the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the London-based think tank (and HIC Member) and International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
Some see this "farmland grab" to be motivated as a measure to improve precarious food security. Others charge that private, neoliberal interests lie at the base of these large land acquisitions that range in nature from a large-scale irrigation project to monocultures, including biofuel production, and sheer land speculation. In any case, these foreign land grabbers in African states seek to bypass unreliable international food markets toward an autonomous food-security solution, albeit on other p