Photography and text by TerraProject
Text edited by Davide Barbera
An accurate photo analysis by the photo collective TerraProject on “land grabbing”, from financial crisis to neo-colonialism, is the base of the new publication Land Inc.
From 2012 to 2013 the four photographers of the photo collective TerraProject (Michele Borzoni, Simone Donati, Pietro Paolini, Rocco Rorandelli) documented the “land grabbing” phenomenon under its diverse expressions on main involved territories: Brazil, Dubai, Ethiopia, Philippines, Indonesia, Madagascar and Ucraine.
The ‘green’ gold rush begins in the years two thousand, under the financial and agricultural crisis, during which investors – mainly countries with no agricultural land left – spotted off-shore territories as a solution to the international markets uncertainty. Objectives could then be very different; they went from the need of being self sufficient, to goods production like sugar, soy and eucalypt or such as palm oil in Indonesia, an industry that is nowadays threatening one of the hugest forest ecosystems on earth.
On one hand, this is a clear side effect of globalisation; on the other, southern countries are at the same time interested by the richest part of the story, like South East Asia or the Emirates for instance. In any case, above all, this stays the opening act of a new dangerous era of big landowners, where multinational corporations will only act in the name of money profits, with no consideration for agricultural traditions and workers rights, totally against local communities sustainability; in between, compliant governments moderating, if not supporting their neo-colonialism politics.
Land Inc. is an ambitious collective work that brought TerraProject to Brazil, Dubai, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines and Ukraine to document an epical passage of humanity: the shift from family farming to largescale industrial plantations.
After the 2008 food crisis, countries that rely on imports to satisfy internal food demand began acquiring or leasing fertile land from other nations to cycle food back to their internal markets, while private investors saw food and biofuel production as a new and booming commodity.
This rush for fertile lands had a series of repercussions. Because of land grabbing, indigenous people and farmers started to get displaced, losing access to their only source of livelihood. Monocultural large estates started replacing smallscale farms, reducing the biodiversity of locally grown crops. And with the expansion of the biofuel market, land and water were increasingly utilized to cultivate nonfood crops. In many cases, this phenomenon had environmental impacts, such as deforestation, pollution and control over water resources.
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