Accountability in agricultural investment chains


In recent years, a wave of large-scale acquisitions of farmland for plantation agriculture has taken place in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A complex picture of actors involved up and down the chains of investment in agricultural ventures means that understanding and improving opportunities for accountability at every level is critical in ensuring that investment processes respond to local needs and aspirations.

Large scale oil palm plantations in Borneo. It is estimated that two thirds of Indonesia’s palm oil production is managed by multinational companies (Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Creative Commons)

Farmers, herders and foragers affected by large-scale land deals have looked for opportunities for voice, redress and accountability – from seeking to influence key decision-making moments to legal action before national courts, through to leveraging of lender standards and complaint mechanisms.

Despite emerging evidence on certain features of these land deals, uncertainty still surrounds the actors, relations, processes and incentives involved – the 'investment chain' underpinning large land deals. Yet understanding where the money for a given investment comes from and where the produce is sold can provide new levers for public accountability.

What will IIED do?

IIED works to generate evidence on the investment chains underpinning large land deals, and to feed that evidence into policy processes in home and host states, and internationally.

IIED also works with partners to develop guides and learning materials for civil society and citizens' groups, and organises workshops to promote lesson-sharing among practitioners.


Following the money: an advocate's guide to securing accountability for agricultural investments, Emma Blackmore, Natalie Bugalski, David Pred (2015), IIED report, Land, Investment and Rights series

Agricultural investments in Southeast Asia: Legal tools for public accountability, Emily Polack, Lorenzo Cotula, Emma Blackmore and Shalmali Guttal (2014), IIED, Land, Investment and Rights series

Understanding agricultural investment chains: Lessons to improve governance, Lorenzo Cotula and Emma Blackmore (2014), IIED, Land, Investment and Rights series