Land sell-off a rotten deal for a billion hungry people – Oxfam

Campaigns and Advocacy, GROW, Media Releases, News article written on the 04 Oct 2012

Land nearly nine times the size of the state of Victoria – big enough to grow food for a billion hungry people – has been sold off globally in the last decade, international aid agency Oxfam said today.

In its new report, Our Land, Our Lives, Oxfam reveals the worrying rush to control the world’s farmland, and demands action to safeguard the welfare of poor and vulnerable communities.

Oxfam Head of Economic Justice, Kelly Dent, said the world’s hungry were most at risk from land grabs.

“Over the last 10 years poor countries have lost a soccer pitch worth of land to foreign investors every second. Adding to concern is the trend by foreign investors to export agricultural products from the land, rather than offer them to local communities,” Ms Dent said.

Oxfam’s report shows that the unprecedented rush for land has overwhelmed regulatory safeguards in poor countries, meaning people continue to be evicted following land deals, often violently, without consultation or compensation. Oxfam is looking to the World Bank for immediate action.

Ms Dent said the World Bank was one of the world’s most powerful institutions, both investing in farmland as well as advising poor countries on their land regulations.

“The World Bank’s own research reveals that countries with the poorest protection of people’s land rights are those with the most large-scale land deals. The World Bank must act now to temporarily freeze its agricultural investments in land while it improves its standards to ensure poor communities rights and food security are protected,” Ms Dent said.

“Waiting to see what happens isn’t appropriate – all indications are that the global land rush will only accelerate as competition for food and natural resources intensifies.”

Oxfam wants to see progress towards a Freeze at the World Bank’s first Annual Meeting since Jim Kim was installed as its new President, to be held in Tokyo on 12-14 October. Specifically, Oxfam wants the World Bank’s freeze to send a strong signal to global investors to stop land-grabbing and to improve standards for:

  • Transparency – ensuring that information about land deals is publicly accessible for both affected communities and governments.
  • Consultation and consent – ensuring communities are informed in advance, and can agree or refuse projects.
  • Land rights and governance – strengthening poor people’s rights to land and natural resources, especially women, through better land tenure governance as set out by the Committee for Food Security.
  • Food security – ensuring that land investments do not undermine local and national food security.

Notes to editors:

  • According to the International Land Coalition, 203 million hectares of land was acquired in major deals globally between 2000 and 2010.
  • The same research shows that 106 million hectares of land in developing countries was acquired by foreign investors between 2000 and 2010.

For a copy of the report, go to

To arrange interviews contact Laurelle Keough on 0425 701 801

Oxfam is campaigning against land grabs as part of its GROW campaign, which aims to secure a future where everyone has enough to eat.