Land Grabbing

San Francisco, Quezon Province, Philippines © Astrud Lea Beringer

Farmers in Bondoc Peninsula still use manual farming implements to cultivate the land 2015 © Astrud Lea Beringer

Land grabbing describes the extensive increase of commercial land transactions, involving the acquisition or long-term lease of large areas of land by investors.

The rising demand for agro fuels, high food prices, and the phenomena of capital rich countries with land and water constraints, acquiring cheap farmlands in poorer or developing countries, and corporations, financial investors or governments searching for land based investment opportunities, are major contributing factors to global land grabbing.
In order to secure their own food and energy supplies, many rich countries negotiate, through state-owned entities or public-private partnerships,purchase or leasing deals on wide areas of land in developing countries. The identification of precise details of the globally grabbed land is difficult, yet it is estimated that at least 70 million hectares of agricultural land were sold or are under negotiation for sale to foreign buyers.

Access to land means access to food and proper nutrition. Access is crucial for the rural and urban poor. With a land area of around 30 million hectares, the Philippines utilizes around 41.6% hectares for the agricultural sector. Investments into agriculture, however, became less profitable over the years due to lack of governmental support which resulted in inadequate irrigation and infrastructure, conversions and reclassifications of land, the flawed implementation of the agrarian reform program , natural disasters and insufficient regulations in trade liberalization.

In consideration of widespread hunger and poverty in the Philippines, the neglect of the agricultural sector had a vast impact on the life of the poor. Land grabbingaggregated the unequal distribution of landownership, affecting the enjoyment of human rights of the local population and in particular the right to adequate food.

FIAN Philippines advocates the effective implementation of the FAO Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests as an internationally accepted standard of governance of land and natural resources to combat poverty and as an instrument to fight land grabbing.