The drive to secure food and investments has led many cash-rich governments and private investors to turn into farmland, putting greater pressure on the use of land and forests for agriculture, mainly for food but also increasingly for energy crops. In early 2012, nearly 35 million hectares of land in 66 countries were consolidated on the table of investors, seizing the food production from the hands of farmers and rural communities.
Nearly all foreign large-scale land investments in Asia have to do with export production of food and energy crops financed by private companies, and which are often accompanied by violations on the rights of the people and loss of biodiversity. Multinational corporations as well as some state governments call it investment; small food producers believe it is the new form of colonisation or global land grabbing.
Resource-insecure nations such as the Gulf States as well as India and China have inked several agreements with the governments of Cambodia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines and other countries to cultivate food and energy crops for food security and profit. Malaysia, for instance, has favoured the expansion and encroachment of palm oil plantations into the native customary rights (NCR) lands of the indigenous peoples of Sarawak.
This continuing trend of global land grabbing causes displacement of local and indigenous populations; disrupts livelihoods; undermines local initiatives of establishing sustainable systems of agriculture; and exacerbates poverty in rural communities.