Jennifer Franco, Hannah Twomey, Khu Khu Ju, Pietje Vervest, Tom Kramer
28 January 2016
“Land is like our vein; it is vital for our living. After our land was confiscated, we don’t know what to do for our livelihood,” says a farmer from Kachin State in Myanmar. Today many inhabitants of rural communities in Myanmar live under threat of losing their lands in a battle for resources spurred by ethnic conflict, exploitative land laws, and powerful economic actors. The existence of a legal right to the land does not translate into that right being respected in practice, and people across the country are now working to protect their right to the land.
The bioeconomy is promoted as a response to current global social and environmental crises, with its promise of replacing fossil fuels with ‘renewable’ biological resources. How does it play out on the ground? Who wins and who loses? And what are the alternatives?
Industrial tree plantations (ITP), as a newly emerging sector, is expanding quickly and massively in Southern China, involving foreign corporations (including Finnish and Indonesian) tied to a variety of domestic partners, both state and corporate. In some places, the villagers embrace the land deals, while in others these land deals have provoked conflicts.
As Brazil and China become the world’s leading exporter and importer of soybeans respectively, Chinese companies have sought investments in Brazil to wrest greater control over the flows and profits of the international soybean trade from North Atlantic-based transnational companies. While some promote these as positive “South-South cooperation”, many others condemn them as neocolonial “land grabs” that displace peasants, cause environmental degradation, and deindustrialize the Brazilian economy.
The expansion of tree plantations and non-food crops is frequently left out of analysis on land grabbing, but is a crucial part of the picture. This paper provides an up-to-date review of tree plantations worldwide and summarises the latest research and data on their impact.
This introduction to Land Grabbing and agrarian political economy looks at various issues in the debate, the different theoretical perspectives, as well as the relations between state, capital and society, and the politics of change, resistance and mobilisation for alternatives.