Pros and cons of large-scale agricultural investments

As our global population continues to grow, food security issues drive further investment in third world agricultural land. These investments are often seen by stakeholders as both positive and negative depending on an organization’s own aspirations. The UN Committee on World Food Security commissioned the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition  to find out how best to initiate policies and guidelines that can protect vulnerable parties caught within the new wave of large-scale land appropriation by international investors.

The committee had to produce a guiding document on the many facets of these large scale investments. The document aimed to reveal their "magnitude and social, economic and environmental outcomes...not only to reduce their negative impacts but also to enhance their positive contributions." writes Pablo Pacheco, Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research.

The report was recently released with some very interesting results. It revealed that 75% of the 50–80 million hectares of land acquired by international investors were in sub Saharan Africa.

Pablo writes "the rise in investments is largely associated with growing demand for food, feed, fibre and biofuels, as well as financial speculation."

The committee concluded that "large-scale investments in agriculture do not necessarily increase food supply, close yield gaps or expand production” and "contracts and compensations for local populations remain highly questionable".


Read the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition's report.

Read more of International investments in agriculture: Do the negative impacts outweigh the benefits?