Conceptualizing contract farming in the global land grabbing debate

TitleConceptualizing contract farming in the global land grabbing debate
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsVicol M, Niño HPérez
Secondary AuthorsNeef A, Ngin C, Moreda T, Mollet S
Secondary TitleRoutledge Handbook of Global Land and Resource Grabbing
Place PublishedLondon
Key themesDispossession-grabbing, FDI

Contract farming, a system of vertical coordination between a grower and a buyer, maintains an ambivalent position in the global land grabbing literature. It appears variously as a form of land grabbing itself, as a potentially inclusive and therefore desirable alternative to land grabbing, and as a way to organize production post-land grab. Given this ambiguity, this chapter aims to clarify conceptualizations of contract farming and land. We discuss the three approaches identified earlier, arguing that each suffers from a weak theorization of the phenomenon of contract farming itself. The chapter then introduces a fourth thesis that provides a deeper conceptualization of the relationship between contract farming and land, arguing that it is not analytically useful to consider contract farming as a form of land grabbing. Instead, we position contract farming as a way for capital to control land without owning land. In doing so, we invite the global land grabbing literature to engage deeply with the significant historical body of critical analysis of contract farming, including how contract farming itself shapes processes of agrarian change and socio-economic dynamics in different but equally important ways to land acquisition. We believe such a cross-fertilization of ideas about land, agricultural and agrarian change will be beneficial for both literatures.


Available for download



Document Type

Book Section