Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

Land Grabbing also hits Europe

The main actors of land grabbing, mainly concentrated in Africa and to a lesser extent in Asia and Latin America, has been the Chinese and Americans. It mainly developed in the early 21st century with the use of potentially fertile lands. In 2012, after FAO proclaimed a moratorium against land grabbing in poor countries, the fear spread that “the guidelines for land regulations and access to fishing and forestry resources” may have become law, impeaching the existing contracts. This made the investors assaulting African lands more careful. The hunger for lands did not stop, though, the objective simply changed. Some available data is quite impressive. 10% of agricultural lands in Romania are owned by large foreign economic groups. There is even an English investment fund. There is also a property fund with 80,000 hectares in Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic. According to Thierry Pouch, head economist of the French Chambres d'agriculture’s Reseau, only 20% of the land belongs to farms. The assault on European lands is quieter because the plots of land acquired by multinational groups and hedge funds are smaller than the large acquisitions (40 thousand hectares or more) carried out in Africa. Nevertheless, it is a considerable business. The Chinese investment group Hong Yang has recently acquired 1700 hectares of land suitable for cereal production of cereals in the French Department of Indre, the historical region of Berry. The price was 15,000 euro per hectare versus the general market price in the area of 4,000 euro per hectare. It is no longer a question of predatory action, but medium- to long-term speculation that bets on the increase in the value of agrarian lands in a world increasingly in search of food. However, although a 25-million-euro investment is regarded as small potatoes in finance, it is surely an important one for agriculture in comparison to the small average size of European farms.

From: Teatro Naturale, 1/07/2016