From rising food prices to growing demand for biofuel, the current obsession for agricultural land borders on speculative mania as private companies, hedge funds, private equity funds, and sovereign wealth funds join the land rush looking for lucrative deals in the developing world. An estimated 500 million acres, an area about ten times the size of Britain, has been bought or leased in the developing world in the last decade. The social, economic, and environmental impacts of this trend have been extensively researched and made public by the Oakland Institute.
This brief offers insight into a new class of companies, such as African Land Limited, that use the idea of helping African communities, together with deception around yields and profits, to dupe investors—including retired individuals who’ve handed over their life savings—to make more while doing good.
With the tagline “We Harvest—You Profit,” the UK-based African Land Limited offers an opportunity for land investment in poor countries that sounds too good to pass up. Unhappy investors, legal troubles, and a history of controversial directors reveal another story.