The last decade has witnessed an unprecedented rush to acquire land in developing countries - 203 million hectares have been sold or leased in large scale deals in that period.
The lack of transparency and regulation around land deals has left poor communities vulnerable to land grabs. Communities are increasingly losing their homes and the land they rely on for food to eat and make a living.- often violently and without any compensation to help them piece their lives back together.
Oxfam is now so concerned that, as part of its GROW campaign for a future where everyone has enough to eat, it is calling on the World Bank to freeze all of its land investments for six months.
A freeze would allow the World Bank to take steps to protect communities and ensure that its investments are truly beneficial for development, and act as a catalyst for other investors to follow their best practice.
Read Oxfam's new Briefing Our Land, Our Lives: Time out on the global land rush.
Land, food prices and hunger
There is clear evidence linking large-scale agricultural land acquisitions to rising food prices. Spikes in global food prices prompt investors and governments to renew focus on land as an investment opportunity and a means of guaranteeing food supply for their own people. Two thirds of foreign land investments are in countries with serious hunger problems.
Biofuels mandates are also making the problem worse: biofuels production accounts for 68 per cent of land deals, diverting crops from food into fuel limits supply and inevitably drives up food prices.
As demand for land increases, land resources become increasingly scarce and therefore incrementally more valuable. This exacerbates the problems of rising food prices, which is already having a disproportionately high impact on poor people.