Limited access to land and other natural resources discourages smallholders, especially women, from making farming investments.
Photo: FAO/G. Bizzarri


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The livelihoods of many rural dwellers are dependent on having secure and equitable access to land. Tenure security is also a prerequisite for sustainable land management. The massive interest of commercial investors has increased the pressure on land globally. This article describes the international community’s efforts to improve the responsible governance and management of land.

Following the global food crisis of 2008, land is firmly back on the international political agenda. It is a key issue in the debates on food security, agriculture and rural development. What is more, it is also a hot topic among investors who regard farmland as an important new source of revenue.

Demand for arable land is increasing

According to the latest figures on the dynamics of the land rush published by the Land Matrix ( in 2013, more than 775 investment deals have been concluded since the year 2000, covering 32.6 million hectares in low and middle income countries. Another 10.8 million hectares are currently under negotiation.

At the same time, 75 per cent of the world’s malnourished population live as subsistence farmers, pastoralists or landless agricultural workers in rural areas – often with limited or no access to land, or with their land rights threatened by evictions, expropriations or sales and leases of the land to investors.

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