Land Inc. is a journey across Brazil, Dubai, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Madagascar the Philippines and Ukraine to document what some define as a form of neocolonialism, and others as a chance for development: land grabbing and the growing investments in industrial farming and plantations.
In 2009 we first learnt about the impact of the previous year's food crisis on changes in Government and private sector investment strategies. Countries that relied on imports to satisfy internal food demand began acquiring or leasing fertile land from other nations to cycle food back to their internal markets, while private investors saw food and biofuel production as a new and booming source of profit. This rush for fertile lands had a series of repurcussions in the affected countries. Indigenous people and farmers started to get displaced, losing access to their only source of livelihood. Monocultural large estates started replacing small-scale farms, reducing the biodiversity of locally grown crops. And with the expansion of the biofuel market, land and water were increasingly utilized to cultivate non-food crops. In many cases, this phenomenon had environmental impacts, such as deforestation, pollution and control over water resources.
Land Inc. is the effort of four photographers who, for the past two years, have devoted their resources to understand and visually represent the actors and the forces behind this phenomenon. Our project is about control. Who controls land, those who have always inhabited it, or those who can afford large investments? And who ought to benefit from agricultural productions? Those who cultivate and need it, or those who can sell it abroad for a higher value? Concurrently, our project is about the dramatic transformation of agriculture, globally shifting from small-scale cultivation to a larger, more industrial model. Can land deals lead to development and prosperity for growing economies, or will land speculations prevail, negatively impacting the lives of the local communities? In view of a burgeoning world population, and an even more increasing demand for food, our project aims to provide a substrate for thoughts and reflection on this crucial and underdocumented global issue.
Land Inc. is also the result of a consolidated collective practice. Group projects not only give us a chance to synergically optimize the production process, but also are a creative choice of translating the individual's perceptions and representations of a subject into a single body of work, unified by a specific photographic language.