Voices from the field
The IAWG has contributed to the understanding of the challenges and opportunities of larger-scale agricultural investments by examining past and present larger-scale agricultural investments and assessing to what extent their activities can be characterized as responsible.
UNCTAD and the World Bank reviewed and assessed 39 mature agribusiness investments in Africa and Southeast Asia, focusing in particular on their approaches to social, economic, and environmental responsibility. This work included conducting a large-scale field based survey. In particular, the IAWG interviewed more than 900 community stakeholders to listen to the voices from the field and to give voice to those actually concerned by agricultural investment.
Some major findings:
Wide range of outcomes, but on balance, the investments visited have generated more positive than negative impacts for surrounding communities and host countries
Major positive impacts include employment generation, provision of social services, infrastructure development, economic spill-over, and access to finance, markets and new technologies
Major negative impacts include loss of access to land, which was mentioned by one-third of all interviewed stakeholders, and loss of access to water
Open consultations with host communities from the beginning are key to avoid costly and time-consuming land disputes
Investors that were financially and operationally successful tended also to be those that had the most positive impact on their host economies and surrounding communities
Host country governments can support responsible agricultural investments by creating an enabling environment which allows investors to survive, thrive, and contribute to the development of communities and the economy
Vulnerable segments of the populations such as women and youth may be further marginalized
NGOs can play an important role in creating and strengthening partnerships between investors and local communities and in giving voice to those most concerned by the investment