Access To Land

Rabobank vs. Eastern European peasants: the land grabbing side of EU banking

Dear reader, interested in an exciting triology? And it is not fiction, although it is certainly shocking. It appeared recently in international media and it goes like this: Romanian farmers discovered their land had been sold without their knowledge or consent. Investigative journalist Luke Dale Harris and Sorin Semeniuc followed the money trail all the way to Rabobank, the Dutch banking giant that turns out to have invested millions in agricultural land in the country.

How did Rabobank come to own stolen farmland? That’s were the first part of the triology comes in...as it is explained in De Correspondent:

Think land grabbing is a thing of the past? Think again.

The second part explores the facts more in detail. Trough three subsidiary companies belonging to a €315 million investment fund called Rabo Farm, Rabobank has acquired over 21,000 hectares of farmland since 2011 across Romania and Poland. Though the due diligence standards of Rabobank are highly touted, the De Correspondent investigation exposes how the bank was doing business with convicted criminals and local politicians. Check out how corruption comes in at the following link:

Tales of corruption surrounding Rabobank dealings in Romania.

Spoiler alert! Not a happy ending...The final part of the investigation describes how in the Romanian village of Dobromir, Rabobank intermediaries hired bandits to get people to part with their land. Villagers were pressured into selling at just €90 a hectare. The same land has since come into the hands of a subsidiary of the Dutch banking giant, at over €2000 a hectare. A story from what may be the poorest village in Romania can be read here:

Farmers in what may be the poorest village in Romania pressured into selling their land to Rabobank.

Moral of the story: land grabbing is not only a “global south” problem, it is a European reality too. The weapons might be different but the outcomes are all too familiar for peasant farmers and small food producers. Rabobank is merely one “top player” amongst hundreds of other multinational companies, investment funds which put their bets on Eastern European farmland. According Eco Ruralis, Romanian peasant organization and Access to Land network member, the bets are off and peasant and agroecological farming desperately needs an upper hand in their struggle for land!


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