Special Issue "'Grabbing' Land for Solving the Global Food Problem: What are the Implications for 'Local' Food Security?"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 May 2015) | Viewed by 11505

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Femke Van Noorloos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of GeoSciences, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Interests: residential tourism and sustainable urban living
Dipl.-Ing. Guus Van Westen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of GeoSciences, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Interests: global value chains, private sector development and responsible business

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The challenge of doubling global food supplies to feed a projected 9 billion people by 2050 has triggered a strong influx of foreign investments in land and agribusiness in various countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In the wake of the 2007-2008 food crisis, and exacerbated by the rush for biofuels and a growing world population to be fed by finite natural resources, the search for a global food system that can deliver sustainable and equitable global food security (i.e., ensuring that every man, woman and child enjoy their ‘Right to Adequate Food’) is high on international business and policy agendas. While this has spurred foreign investments in resource-abundant developing countries to boost food production for global markets, little is known about how these investments affect local food insecurity in the recipient countries. This conflict in levels of scale is particularly relevant in Africa, where (foreign) investments in agribusiness have recently increased significantly and vie for natural resources used for local livelihoods and food security.

This special issue aims to better understand how these investments in global food supply affect food security at the local level in recipient countries. We aim to assess the interface between ‘global’ investments in agribusiness and ‘local’ food security by (following a value chain approach) comparing investments in different business models engaged in the production of a variety of food crops along the local – export market continuum. It will generate in-depth and comparative knowledge on the global-local nexus of different foreign-induced business models, their level of inclusiveness and how and to what extent they can contribute to local food security. We are interested to receive contributions analyzing a variety of foreign investment cases in various countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America: how ‘responsible’ and ‘inclusive’ are current business practices. The insertion of local populations—particularly smallholders—into global and domestic agricultural value chains is expected to offer opportunities for linking local development with increasing food production. Nonetheless, the impacts of new private agribusiness investments on local livelihoods and food security are poorly understood, especially in terms of indirect effects through chain reorganization and food market changes. The impact pathway is complex and not automatic, particularly with respect to women and young/elderly generations.

A direct pathway towards food security is assumed through either employment (wages) or smallholder inclusion in supply chains, but this claim has not been supported by evidence. In reality, much more complex dynamics can take place, including displacement of local food supplies when land is converted for non-local cash crops, crowding out of subsistence farming that is not always compensated by income from wages, and indirect effects of chain reorganization and changes in local (urban) food markets. We will consider both these direct and indirect impacts.

This special issue

The aim of this special issue is to gain insight in the direct and indirect effects of global land investments for local food security in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The aim is to assess the effects of private agribusiness investments in ‘global food’ on local food security.

For this special issue we would like to collect papers focusing on various types of businesses models that can be identified on the basis of crops; their inclusion of smallholders and their organization and integration in (global) food chains: smallholders organized in farmer groups and associations; systems of out-growers and contract farming; and independent smallholders. We would like to streamline our special issue by making the following distinction:

(1) Traditional export crops (coffee, cocoa etc.); often produced by smallholders organized in farmer associations or unorganized, but also on plantations

(2) Non-traditional export crops (vegetables, flowers etc.); capital intensive, high potential for employment and income generation. Also destined for local (urban) markets

(3) Traditional staple crops (maize, sorghum, barley etc.): mostly smallholder production, including subsistence farming, for domestic consumption and processing

This special issue aims to clarify the links between agribusiness investment and local food security as mediated through business characteristics (i.e., business models and value chain), (changing) resource use and the functioning of local (urban) food markets. This implies that we investigate three impact pathways of agribusiness investments on local food security:

(1) Impact on local people directly involved in production (i.e., production and/or income effects, market access)

(2) Impact on local people not directly involved in production, e.g., through changing resource use and land conversion

(3) Impact on local (urban) food markets and consumers indirectly affected through changing food availability (e.g., product offering and quality, marketing) and prices.

We call for your contribution with case studies around the world to better illustrate the challenges faced in the context described above.

*This special issue is being elaborated in preparation of an international conference on large scale land acquisition (http://www.landgovernance.org/), which will be organized on 9-10 July 2015. Moreover, a selection of contributors will be invited to present during this conference (Utrecht University).

Article Publication Fees of quality submissions could have a chance to be waived.


Prof. Dr. Annelies Zoomers
Dr. Femke van Noorloos
Dr. Guus van Westen
Guest Editors


Waivers for:

-Evans Kirigia and Gemma Betsema

-George Schoneveld et al.

-Kei Otsuki

-Zoomers et al. (synthesis)

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


Published Papers (1 paper)

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The Anatomy of Medium-Scale Farm Growth in Zambia: What Are the Implications for the Future of Smallholder Agriculture?
Land 2015, 4(3), 869-887; https://doi.org/10.3390/land4030869 - 18 Sep 2015
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 11101
Lost in the debates about the appropriate scale of production to promote agricultural growth in Africa is the rapid expansion of medium-scale farmers. Using Zambia as a case study, this article explores the causes and consequences of this middle-tier transformation on the future [...] Read more.
Lost in the debates about the appropriate scale of production to promote agricultural growth in Africa is the rapid expansion of medium-scale farmers. Using Zambia as a case study, this article explores the causes and consequences of this middle-tier transformation on the future of small-scale agriculture. Combining political economic analysis with household survey data, this article examines the relationships between the growth in medium-scale farmers and changing conditions of land access, inequality, and alienation for small-scale farmers. Growth of medium-scale farmers is associated with high land inequality and rapid land alienation in high potential agricultural areas. This growth is shown to be partially driven by wage earner investment in land acquisition and is leading to substantial under-utilization of agricultural land. These processes are both limiting agricultural growth potential and foreclosing future options for an inclusive agricultural development strategy. Full article
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