Agricultural markets have for some years been affected by large fluctuations, making the prices of agricultural commodities highly volatile. The most recent vivid example of this was the marked price rise that occurred in 2008. In fact, land (and its exploitation) is tending to rank high once again among the list of safe investments and more and more foreign investors are taking a position in the agricultural sector in developing countries. What is the scope of – and what is at stake in – these transfers of agricultural assets?
Dominique Auverlot and Blandine Barreau, who coordinated a recent report on this question, describe the reality of this rush for agricultural land and the nature of the main investments that characterize it. Without denying the dangers inherent in this intervention of foreign investors in developing countries – which, as many see it, very much need their agricultural produce to feed their own populations – they show how it may also offer opportunities and play an important role in global food security. Lastly, they formulate a series of recommendations, aimed mainly at France and the European Union, for keeping these agricultural investments genuinely “responsible” and ensuring that they truly respect both the environment and the (economic, social, land etc.) rights of local populations, arguing also that this same orientation should be incorporated into the various international rules currently being developed in this area.