Land rush

Protecting national food security through large land deals abroad seems to be more difficult than it initially appeared to be


Is the global rush for farmland over? China has been at the forefront of such land deals over the past decade, especially in Africa. India, too, wants to get into the game. The International Monetary Fund report on the global economy published this week provides interesting insights about what has happened in reality.

In 2009, when the rush to buy land through transnational deals was at its most intense, an average 223 square miles of land was negotiated every day, or an area five times the size of Paris. The subsequent drop in global food inflation has ensured that deals for large tracts of lands are now much more modest.

Nearly half the acquired land remains idle today. The proportion of uncultivated land is much higher in sub-Saharan Africa. There are a host of reasons ranging from lower levels of food insecurity to problems of farming this land. Protecting national food security through large land deals abroad seems to be more difficult than it initially appeared to be.