This week in Rome, the three-day United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization's World Summit on Food Security will focus on farmland investment, paying particular attention to Qatar, South Korea and other big private and public investors including Saudi Arabia and China. La Via Campesina, the Indonesia-based global peasants movement, which has been critical of the practice, estimates that cross-border investments in farmland have tied up over 110 million acres of farmland worldwide, or an area about two-thirds the size of France. During the summit's opening statements leaders acknowledged that despite climate change constraining the global water supply, agriculture productivity must increase by 70 percent by 2050 to meet with growing population demands.
While government authorities and investors see the land deals as necessary to ensure the stability and quality of life in their countries, the largely hidden practice of major cross-border farmland purchases also is stirring considerable concern. According to a recent report in The Manila Bulletin in August, a Filipino lawmaker and farmer named Rafael Mariano has called for a government investigation into a deal between the local governments of Mindoro provinces with Jeonnam Feedstock Ltd., a deal the lawmaker says represents a "new wave of global grabbing" and is "a threat to land rights of farmers and indigenous peoples."