Policy brief 2: Large-scale land investment models in Southern Africa


Growing demand for food, feed, fuels, and other commodities, combined with a shrinking resource base and the liberalization of trade and investment regimes, are among factors driving a new global rush for land. Worldwide, lands that only a short time ago seemed marginal to the global economy are now being sought by international and national investors and speculators to an unprecedented degree, placing the latter in direct competition with local communities for access to land, water, and other natural resources. Southern Africa is amongst the most affected regions by the land rush phenomenon with large-scale land investment on a sharp rise since the food price crisis of 2007–08 (see policy brief 1). This raises fundamental questions on agricultural development, food security, land rights, climate change and ecosystem management in the region. Understanding how large-scale land investments are structured, which investment models they are based on, how they are implemented and how inclusive of local stakeholders they are (i.e. to what extent the local stakeholders participate and/or benefit) is key to assess the actual opportunities for all parties involved. It can help determining the real potential of these investments in terms of injecting the much needed finance into agriculture and rural areas in Southern African countries without threatening local livelihoods and compromising the environment that sustains them. Mainly based on a field research conducted for SACAU (Anseeuw and Boche, 2012), this brief aims at presenting the different large-scale land investment models implemented by investors and farmers in Southern Africa. This presentation does not intend to describe all the processes and mechanisms of these models, but should be seen as a first understanding of how the new trends of large-scale agricultural investments in Southern Africa are realized.