Land Rush How do you feed the world? (58mins)

In 2008, the world’s food system began to fall apart. Rich countries started buying up land in the developing world and transforming agriculture. An exciting opportunity or an old fashioned land grab? 

All about Land Rush

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About the film

60% of all the world’s arable land is in Africa.  As food prices rise, large agribusiness have started to move in, often forcing out traditional, subsistence farmers. One country looking to open up to new agricultural opportunities is Mali.

75% of Mali’s population are farmers, but rich nations like China and Saudi Arabia are leasing their land in order to establish large agribusinesses. Many Malian peasants do not welcome these efforts, seeing them as yet another manifestation of imperialism.

The documentary follows American sugar developer Mima Nedelcovych’s Sosumar scheme - a $600 million partnership between the Government of Mali to lease 200-square kilometres of prime agricultural land for a plantation and factory.

However, unlike some of his competitors, Mima sees the involvement of the local community as key to the project’s success and offers partnership to local farmers as contracted sugar cane growers with the prospect of becoming, in time, “a small commercial farmer and then a larger commercial farmer.”

But the scheme isn’t welcomed by everyone and the Sosumar experiment abruptly ends when a military coup takes place in Mali.

In figures...

  • Women are primary agricultural producers, cultivating between 60-80% of the food in most developing countries, and ensure household food security
  • Between 2000-2010, land deals under consideration or negotiation worldwide amounted to a total of 203 million hectares. This land area is equivalent to more than eight times the size of the UK or an area the size of Mexico.
  • There are about 500 million small farms in developing countries, supporting almost two billion people - that's one third of humanity.
  • At the time of decolonisation, Africa was self-sufficient in food and exported around 1.3 million tonnes of food every year between 1966 - 70.
  • Today, Africa imports 25% of its food


Extra Resources

Read or download a full synopsis of the film. 

Read or download the film's transcript. 

What's the connection between poverty and political inequality?

Use our interactive dataviz to find out your share of the world’s calories

More about Directors Hugo Berkeley and Osvalde Lewwat and find out what they learnt making the film.

Educators' Resources

We've put together a guide for Educators & Faciliators with ideas and suggestions on using the films as a teaching tool or starting point for discussions. You can:

What can I do?

Please share this film and encourage people to start asking questions about poverty. It's an easy but effective way to keep the debate about poverty going.  

If you’d like to arrange a cinema screening of Land Rush or include it in a festival, please contact us.

These are organisations active in land, food and fair trade. Find out more and get involved in their work:

  • Alliance 2015: a strategic network of 7NGO's, working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and eradicating poverty.
  • International Land coaltion: an alliance working to secure rights to land, as a way to reduce poverty and contribute to identity, dignity and inclusion.
  • The Fairtrade Foundation: a global organisation working to secure a better deal for farmers and workers.
  • /The Rules: working to change the rules that create poverty and inequality.
  • Via Campesina, the International Peasants Movement:an international movement working to defend small scale, sustainable agriculture.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals around the world, the Foundation makes partnerships and gives grants, focussed on areas where they can bring about substantial change. 
  • Oxfam: is taking a strong stance on land grabs and issues around agriculture.

Photos, logos & trailers

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