The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) recently released its report entitled Land Squeeze. It finds that land ownership is being consolidated in the hands of a few powerful actors, squeezing out smaller farmers, pastoralists, Indigenous Peoples, and others who rely on traditional farmland.

Since 2000, land around twice the size of Germany has been snatched up globally in transnational deals, according to IPES-Food’s report. Approximately 87 percent of these land grabs occurred in regions of high biodiversity. The top 1 percent of world’s largest farms now control 70 percent of land, leaving smaller-scale farmers behind.

Nettie Wiebe, an organic farmer, professor of ethics, and a co-author of the report, tells Food Tank that the report addresses how the land squeeze is playing out in different parts of the world, instead of simply focusing on one region.

Wiebe recalls that some experts initially felt that a global study of this kind was too difficult because each region needs its own analysis. But, she says, “it is a global phenomenon that is going on in every continent, in every context.” Wiebe believes the report is unique because it “outlines both the global trends and acknowledges how complex and diverse [the issue] is.”

Land consolidation is often rooted in colonialism, imperialism, and patriarchy, Wiebe says. But, the report also touches on newer concepts. She tells Food Tank that it “unravels the idea that land needs to be used efficiently,” and stresses that empty land is not always wasted land—it may be performing an essential function.

The report highlights four drivers contributing to land consolidation globally. Land grabbing, or the large-scale appropriation of land, is one of the main causes, which can compromise the land’s original agroecology. Fertile, productive, and biodiverse lands tend to be most at risk of being acquired. The report’s authors also find that deregulation and policies favoring rapid resource extraction are accelerating land grabbing.

Read the full article about the struggle for farmland sovereignty by Vinita Banthia at Food Tank.