Land Grabbing: insights from Romania
All around the globe, peasants, pastoralists, fishers’ communities, rural women and indigenous peoples are losing their once effective control over significant areas of the world’s land, water, wetlands, pasturelands, fisheries and forests for generations to come. This phenomenon – called ‘land grabbing’ – poses a serious threat to rural societies and ecologies and must be stopped and rolled back.
While the stereotypical discussion of land grabbing positions it as a problem only occurring in the global South, a new study by Hands Off the Land (HOTL) and the European Coordination of Via Campesina (ECVC) shows that that the scale of land grabbing in Europe is greatly overlooked. Land grabbing is occurring throughout Europe, in both the ‘old’ E.U. member states of the West and the ‘new’ member states of the East.
In Romania, lands are being grabbed for many purposes including for industrial agriculture, mining, energy, tourism, water resources, and speculation. It is reported that around 800,000 ha, or 6% of Romanian farmland, could already be in the hands of transnational corporations. Capturing lucrative E.U. subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) appears to be a major driver of many of these grabs. This is leading to growing land concentration, as half of the subsidies received in 2012 went to just 1% of the farmers, all of whom had holdings above 500 hectares.
These large-scale land deals are not a form of investment that meets the needs of today's rural population in Romania. On the contrary, it accelerates the concentration of land in the hands of a few private actors, deprives the majority of Romania’s family farmers of access to land, undermines food sovereignty and weakens the appeal of rural areas, widening the rural-urban divide.
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