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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

Read more…

UNCTAD & World Bank. 2017. The Impact of Larger-Scale Agricultural Investments on Local Communities: Updated Voices from the Field
This report presents the findings from the follow-up research the previously visited agricultural operations (see below). The team re-vised 8 of 39 operations for an in-depth study on several topics, conducting 113 interviews with 349 stakeholders primarily from local communities of these operations. Revised recommendations for stakeholders based on the both researches are presented.
UNCTAD & World Bank. 2014. The Practice of Responsible Investment Principles in Larger-Scale Agricultural Investments – Implications for corporate performance and impact on local communities.
This report presents findings from a field-based survey on the conduct of agricultural operations at 39 large-scale, mature agribusiness investments in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. The objective of the report is to provide first-hand, practical knowledge of the approach, behaviour, and experience of these investments, their relationships with surrounding communities and the consequent positive and/or negative outcomes for these communities, host countries, other stakeholders, and the investors themselves.