Conference: Asia and Africa in Transition

NEW DATES: 28-30 June 2021

Panel: Foreign agricultural investments as driver of rural transformation?

Conveners: Rikke Brandt Broegaard, Dept. of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen and Helle Munk Ravnborg, Danish Institute for International Studies

The sustained high food price levels, and prospects of growing demands for food and biomaterial have stimulated not only growing land investments, but also new alliances, public-private partnerships and investment funds designed to attract and facilitate such private-sector investment in African agriculture. In many ways, it has directed attention to the importance of agriculture for poverty reduction, regional and global food security, and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. Investors from all corners of the world are being encouraged to invest in African agriculture, often presented as a vast and land-rich continent. Seventy percent of recent large-scale agricultural deals have taken place on the African continent. Expectations are that foreign agricultural investments will contribute to boost employment, food security and economic opportunities. Yet, this new wave of farmland investments also raises concerns that it could undermine the livelihoods and resource tenure security of small-scale African farmers, and has also been met with concerns and outright contestation based on fears of a neo-colonial land grab.

In this panel, we invite papers which examine the development outcomes of foreign agricultural investments at sub-national level for people living in and using land around such investments. What rural transformations are initiated or reinforced by the recent increase in foreign agricultural investments? What motivate foreign agricultural investment decisions? What are the development outcomes of foreign agricultural investments with respect to employment and wider dynamic effects as well as land tenure and water security? Which role do emerging rights-based investment governance instruments play? Drawing on the individual contributions, the panel aims to identify the factors which enhance positive and safeguard against negative development outcomes.

The panel will include papers that build on empirical work conducted in Tanzania and Uganda as part of a research programme on Agricultural Investors as Development Actors (AIDA) and also welcomes other contributions.