- The politics of land deals
- Cargill’s acquisition agendas in Indonesia and the Philippines
H.W. van Schendel
- Award date
- 15 May 2018
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In the past decade, a global revaluation of land and agriculture has occurred. Following the convergence of the financial, food, and fuel crises in 2008, public and private sector actors sought control over agricultural land leading to a ‘global land rush’. The land rush is explored here with a focus on Cargill, a major agro-industrial commodity trader and intermediary actor in the global agricultural system – handling, processing, and financially speculating on much of the agricultural products consumed daily. Following (and perhaps forecasting) the land rush, Cargill has been pursuing a ‘global acquisition agenda’, involving an investment strategy focused on agricultural land, commodities, companies, and supply. This thesis analyses Cargill’s acquisition agenda and positions it within the transforming, and increasingly financialised, agricultural system. Two of Cargill’s investment projects are explored here, one involves oil palm plantations in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, and the other involves Cargill’s private equity investment into banana production in Mindanao, the Philippines. This thesis argues that Cargill’s central yet diversified position in the agricultural system inspires the motivations behind its acquisition agenda and shapes the strategies it implements to get deals made. Cargill uses country and region-specific informal power resources (including social networks and alliances) and formal power resources (including influence within and over state agencies and actors) to adjust to each country’s institutional and political economic context to establish land control. However, as this thesis finds, even after extensive negotiations and deal making, sometimes the largest of companies can fail.
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