Agricultural Investors as Development Actors? (AIDA)

Start date
March 1, 2016
End date
February 28, 2021
Project code
Total grant
Contact person
Helle Munk Ravnborg

Like agricultural investors from other non-African countries, Danish farmers and institutional investors are increasingly attracted by the invitations extended by African governments to invest in agriculture as well as by the encouragement they receive to do so, e.g. from the Danish government. The range of potential development outcomes at national as well as at local livelihood level from such investments is wide. Thus, international organisations like the UN are striving to develop an institutional framework for governing such global, private investment flows in order to enhance development outcomes and safeguard human rights. The Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI) are the latest addition to this framework.

Tanzania and Uganda are among the countries that have generated interest among Danish agricultural investors. At the same time, the two countries pursue different strategies to attract foreign agricultural investments. Through a multi-layered case study approach, this project aims to enhance positive and safeguard against negative development outcomes from the growing involvement of foreign investors and investments in agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa. Taking Danish agricultural investors as a case of foreign agricultural investors, the project explores the expectations, e.g. economic, societal, etc., that motivate investment decisions and the attention paid to emerging rights-based investment governance principles. Taking the location of Danish agricultural investments in Tanzania and Uganda as the geographical starting point, the project examines the development outcomes at sub-national level of foreign agricultural investments for people living in and using land in their vicinity. Informed by literature, and drawing on the specific research competences held by the research team, the project will in particular focus upon development outcomes with respect to employment, land tenure security and water security.


First-year report 2016:

AIDA has established an overview of Danish agricultural investments in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the associated investors. The overview is based upon reviews existing databases; internet searches; interviews & archival research with agricultural magazines and newsletters; more than 40 interviews with individual & institutional investors, as well as consultation with all Danish diplomatic representations in SSA. On this basis, a total of six Danish agricultural investments have been selected as the geographical starting points for the selection of the fieldwork locations.

The second main result has been the development and implementation of protocols for undertaking systematic literature reviews to identify scientifically documented findings on development outcomes of foreign and/or large-scale agricultural investments with respect to employment, dynamic economic effects, and land tenure and water security as well as with respect to the importance of emerging rights-based instruments to guide agricultural investments. These results are currently being documented.