Large scale agricultural land acquisitions are generating conflicts and controversies around the world. Yet funds continue to flow to overseas farmland like iron to a magnet. Why? Because of the potential financial returns. And some of the biggest players looking to profit from farmland are pension funds, with billions of dollars invested.
Pension funds currently juggle US$23 trillion in assets, of which some US$100 billion are believed to be invested in commodities. Of this money in commodities, some US$5–15 billion are reportedly going into farmland acquisitions. By 2015, these commodity and farmland investments are expected to double.
In a new report, GRAIN explores the role of pension funds in the global land grab. Experts say they are the biggest institutional investors in offshore farmland. Yet these investments are being made with people's retirement savings. Therefore, pension funds may be one of the few classes of land grabbers that working people can pull the plug on, by sheer virtue of the fact that it is their money.