"Rising food prices, coupled with fears over future food security, as the global population moves towards the 9 billion mark in 2050, has led to a rush to acquire land for agriculture in West Africa (and other parts of the world) by foreign governments to grow their own food. As prices rise, foreign private investors have also seen an opportunity to make good returns on on agricultural investments through land leases."
"Land leases are mainly driven by Middle Eastern and Asian countries whose populations are growing rapidly, in the face of limited arable land."
"Almost 80% of land in the West African region is untitled....In the absence of secure property rights, the risk that land will be expropriated
deters investment and reduces the ability of borrowers to pledge land as collateral thus inhibiting land transactions."
Implications from West Africa Trends Newsletter:
"The land lease trend has received a mixed reception. Activists have seen this as neocolonialism, as they fear locals losing their land rights in mostly secret deals between governments and foreign entities. For instance there has been a growing local and international criticism of Libya’s 250,000 acre land lease in Mali, where it is claimed that local people have been displaced. There has also been criticism that it is immoral for Africa to grow food for others while the continent cannot feed itself."