Opaque private sector deals, increasing demand for land, insufficient consultations and impact assessments, and alleged complicity of powerful interests in land grabs, among others, have contributed to continuing land insecurity in Cambodia. This, in turn, has led to wide-spread forced evictions and land-grabbing among poor farmers, as activists call for transparency in economic land concessions and resolution of land disputes, while government promises a moratorium on new ELCs, a review of existing ones, and a nationwide titling program.
This video presents the experiences of small scale women and men farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples with agricultural land investments and their impact on their lives and livelihoods.
Six cases are featured – three in Cambodia and three in the Philippines.
The video is one of the knowledge products that came out of the project “Expanding the Dialogue on Large-Scale Land Acquisition and their Alternatives” implemented by the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA) with the support of the International Land Coalition (ILC) in 2011-2012.
Total running time: 12 minutes
Land Grabs or Large Scale Land Investments? Protecting Farmers’ Rights to Land, AFA Issue Paper, Volume 4, Number 1, March 2012.
AFA participated in the “Expert Consultation on the Implementation Guide on Agricultural Investment and Access to Land,” which was held at the Amari Watergate Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand on 18-20 January 2012, organized by FAO.
AFA KM Officer Jun Virola presented the “Farmers’ Perspective on Agricultural Investment and Access to Land,” which looked at: (1) issue and problems being experienced by farmers related to agricultural land investment and access to land; (2) farmers’ demands and possible solutions; (3) the case of a successful farmers’ cooperative; (4) the case of the Sumilao farmers; (5) lessons learned from these cases; and, (6) recommendations for the implementation guide on agricultural investment and access to land. The invitation from FAO was a follow up to the land rights consultation that was also attended by AFA in the latter part of 2011.
Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said his ministry received a proposal to make use of 500,000 hectare areas for the 1.6-million-hectare food and energy estate projects planned in Merauke, Papua.
He said half of the proposed area could be planted directly since it was not in forested areas that have been allocated for other business aims.
“We are still assessing the remaining 250,000 hectares to ensure whether they are located in peatland or natural forest areas,” Zulkifli said recently.
Since the food crisis of 2008, food justice activists have warned that governments in concert with multinational corporations have accelerated a worldwide “land grab” to buy up vast swaths of arable land in poor countries. According to The Economist magazine, between 37 to 49 million acres of farmland were put up for sale in deals involving foreign nationals between 2006 and mid-2009. [includes rush transcript]
OFFICIALS in Battambang province’s Samlot district met yesterday with local military officers to ask that around 20 families be allowed to resume farming on land that in recent months has been the subject of a violent dispute.
Deputy district governor In Savrith said that officers from Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Military Region 5 had allowed 21 families to resume cultivating their crops yesterday, though a final agreement would not be reached until later this week.
“I don’t think there will be a problem because Military Region 5 has already agreed to accept the return of another group of farmers,” he said.
On July 8, 58 families were given permission to resume farming on a 390-hectare plot in Samlot’s Kampong Lpov commune.
A total of 78 families claim that they have farmed the land since 2005, and that since 2009 soldiers from Military Region 5 have been trying to force them off the land.
Cambodia’s sugar industry is undergoing a revival, but there is an undercurrent to what would otherwise be a great success story. Hundreds of farmers have allegedly been forced off their land – at gunpoint – to make way for sugarcane plantations, which are controlled by foreign firms and take advantage of Cambodia’s tax exemptions in Europe. Rights groups worry the alleged abuses will continue as the sugar industry and foreign incentives grow.
(A critical look at the phenomenon of large-scale land acquisition, also known as “land grabbing”, from the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.)
BRUSSELS – The World Bank, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretariat recently presented seven “Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment.” The principles seek to ensure that large-scale land investments result in “win-win” situations, benefiting investors and directly affected communities alike. But, though well-intended, the principles are woefully inadequate.
It has been several years since private investors and states began buying and leasing millions of hectares of farmland worldwide in order to secure their domestic supply of food, raw commodities, and biofuels, or to get subsidies for carbon storage through plantations. Western investors, including Wall Street banks and hedge funds, now view direct investments in land as a safe haven in an otherwise turbulent financial climate.
The scope of the phenomenon is enormous. Since 2006, between 15 and 20 million hectares of farmland, the equivalent of the total arable surface of France, have been the subject of negotiations by foreign investors.
The World Bank has prepared a report on massive investments into developing world agriculture, a practice shorthanded as land grabbing.
The report is due for publication next month, but leaks are already getting out, and causing a stir among Brussels’ huge development activist community.
Amid the food and land bubble leading up to 2008, African land became the target of big corporations and sovereign wealth funds.
Investors in farmland are targeting countries with weak laws, buying arable land on the cheap and failing to deliver on promises of jobs and investments, according to the draft of a report by the World Bank.
“Investor interest is focused on countries with weak land governance,” the draft said. Although deals promised jobs and infrastructure, “investors failed to follow through on their investments plans, in some cases after inflicting serious damage on the local resource base”.
In addition, “the level of formal payments required was low”, making speculation a key motive for purchases. “Payments for land are often waived … and large investors often pay lower taxes than smallholders … or none at all.”
(This case should be immediately investigated by authorities! The rights of farmers to their land should be upheld! Land grabbing and farmer harassment cannot be tolerated!)
Jakarta. Indonesia Corruption Watch have reacted strongly to reports that police in Bengkulu Province sexually harassed and physically abused 50 villagers in Seluma district as they protested against what they claim is a land grab by the state.
ICW activist Tama Satrya Langkun, recently in the headlines after he was beaten by unknown assailants after reporting a number of senior police generals to the Corruption Eradication Commission, said they had received concerning reports of a clash between farmers from Pering Baru village and Seluma Police on Friday.
He alleged that police had sexually harassed six women, injured 20 farmers and arrested 21 people in the incident.
The villagers were protesting against state plantation firm PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) VII in a land dispute.
LOS BANOS – Transnational “land grabbing” has become a global concern, prompting organizers of the world’s largest conference on the rice industry this year to place it on the agenda.
Among the topics during the 3rd International Rice Congress, slated in Hanoi from November 8 to12, are the latest in rice research, future technologies, trade issues and policies that define the cereal’s role in supporting poor rice-dependent communities.
The conference, the first time that the “land grabbing” issue will be addressed in a high-level meeting attended by 17 agricultural ministers, will be convened by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Recent interest in “land grabs,” or the trans-border acquisition of land to produce rice, is sparked by a looming threat of inadequate rice supplies as many countries do not have the capacity to grow enough rice on their own land to meet existing or anticipated demand, IRRI says.