Ever since agriculture started becoming an attractive investment, local farmers all over the world have been losing ground to international businesses. It’s a phenomenon with far-reaching implications. Land Grabbing is a beautifully filmed journey taking in grain fields and tomato hothouses, investors and lobbyists, the EU Parliament in Brussels, a five-star hotel in Dubai, investors and dispossessed land users. In short, it’s a wide-ranging lesson in neocolonialism. National governments lease land to foreign companies for a pittance, leading to former land users going hungry while the food that they help to produce as underpaid laborers is exported to affluent customers in the EU and elsewhere.
We see Danish investors in Romania, Vietnamese in Cambodia, a Dutchman in Ethiopia and the multinational Cargill in Indonesia. Director Kurt Langbein listens to investors talking of a “heaven on earth” before he pays a visit to the farms themselves to talk with proprietors, as well as workers and locals. They tell of another, darker side of the story; of land taken from them, destroyed homes, felled rainforests, intimidation and exploitation. German agricultural scientist Felix zu Löwenstein sheds light on the underlying trends: the area of agricultural land around the world leased to investors since 2000 is two million square kilometers – an area greater than all European farmland combined.
The screening, followed by a debate about sustainable palm oil, is a part of the Grassroots Science events which will take place during June in different places with different activities. Grassroots Science events aim to address the social and environmental consequences of sustainable palm oil production. The organising team consists of OtherWise, Boerengroep, FIAN NL and RUW.
The screening will open by the PhD researcher Yunan Xu who is going to give a presentation about a preliminary analysis of how oil palm fits into the flex crop framework in terms of its material basis, technological feasibility and profit viability, as well as the challenging questions arise within the flex crop framework for critical transnational advocacy and campaigning efforts.
Yunan Xu is a PhD Candidate at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Netherlands. Her research interests include industrial tree plantations, land, agrarian development, rural capitalism and food safety.