Can a website help farmers retain their land rights?

Millions of acres of state-controlled farmland in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean have been sold or leased by local governments, often to foreign investors interested in replacing small farms with agri-business. Details are largely kept secret. Local farmers whose families have been working the same plots of land for generations find it difficult to know where they stand—whether they risk eviction after a sale or have legal rights to stay on their land.

To bring land deal details to light, researchers at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment—a joint venture of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute—recently launched OpenLandContracts.org. This website gathers publicly available legal documents pertaining to the sale or lease of large parcels of farmland by developing nations. The site currently holds 193 land contracts spanning fourteen countries. Learn more.

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