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Global Impact of Land Squeeze

  • 23 May 2024
  • 9 min read

For Prelims: International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP), National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)

For Mains: Key takeaways regarding land squeeze from International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) Report, Land Use in India, India’s Initiatives to Tackle the Issue of Land Squeeze and Food Insecurity

Source: DTE

Why in News?

A recent study conducted by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) focusses on the unprecedented ‘land squeeze’, threatening farmers and food production.

  • Land squeeze refers to the situation where the demand for land for various purposes (agriculture, urbanisation, infrastructure, etc.) outpaces the available cultivable land.

What are the Key Highlights of the Report?

  • The report warns of prevalent "land squeeze" due to rising land prices, land grabs, and carbon schemes, threatening farmers and food production.
  • Globally, the top 1% of the world’s largest farms now control 70% of the world’s farmland.
    • As land becomes scarce, it can be converted from productive agricultural land to other uses, impacting food production
  • Between 2008-2022, there has been a doubling of global land prices.
    • This increase has been particularly pronounced in Central-Eastern Europe, where prices have tripled.
  • "Green grabs," land acquisitions are evidently motivated by environmental concerns, now account for approximately 20% of large-scale land deals.
    • Green grabbing refers to the large-scale acquisition or control of land and resources for environmental purposes, often with negative social and economic consequences. It's essentially land grabs done under the guise of environmental protection.
  • Over half of the land designated by governments for carbon removal projects presents a potential risk of interference with the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and Indigenous people.
    • Carbon offset markets are expected to quadruple in the next 7 years

What are the Key Reasons Behind Land Squeeze?

  • Land Grabs:
    • Large-scale acquisitions of land by governments, corporations, and speculators are displacing farmers and Indigenous communities.
    • These acquisitions are mainly for resource extraction (mining, logging) or export-oriented agriculture.
  • Rising Population and Demands:
    • The increasing global population along with the huge demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel is putting lots of pressure on the availability of the land.
  • Shifts in Global Food Production Systems:
    • It involves the transfer of large areas of land towards industrial agriculture like Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) and monoculture farming practices.
      • Industrial agriculture is the large-scale, intensive production of crops and animals, often involving chemical fertilizers on crops and harmful use of antibiotics in animals.
    • Also, there has been increased demand for land for biofuels and other non-food uses.

What is the Status of Land Use in India?

What are the Key Impacts of Land Squeeze?

  • Loss of Access and Control for Farmers and Rural Communities:
    • Displacement and Dispossession: Land grabs and other pressures force small-scale farmers and indigenous communities off their land, disrupting their livelihoods and traditional ways of life.
    • Threatens Food Security: With fewer farmers and less land available for food production, overall food security becomes threatened, particularly for local communities.
    • Weakened Bargaining Power: Loss of land ownership puts farmers at a disadvantage in negotiating fair prices for their products from powerful agribusinesses.
    • Exacerbated Rural Poverty: Limited access to land restricts opportunities for rural populations, trapping them in a cycle of poverty.
  • Environmental Degradation:
    • Unsustainable Practices: The focus on large-scale, export-oriented agriculture often leads to unsustainable land use practices, such as deforestation, soil depletion, and overuse of water resources.
    • Loss of Biodiversity: Land conversion for mining, infrastructure, and industrial agriculture destroys natural habitats and threatens biodiversity.
    • Increased Vulnerability to Climate Change: Degradation of soil health and loss of natural vegetation weaken ecosystems, making them more vulnerable to climate shocks.
  • Social Unrest and Conflict:
    • Competition for Resources: Competition for scarce land resources can lead to social tensions and conflicts between communities and investors.
      • According to the report by IPES-Food, over half of the land designated by governments for carbon removal projects presents a potential risk of interference with the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and indigenous people.
    • Instability and Outmigration:
      • Loss of land and livelihood opportunities triggers rural-urban migration, putting pressure on urban resources and social services.

What are the Recommendations of the Report?

  • Halt Land Grabs: Policies and regulations are needed to prevent land grabs and ensure land use decisions prioritise local communities and food security.
  • Support Small-Scale Farmers: Investments in rural infrastructure, secure land tenure, and access to financing are crucial for empowering small-scale producers.
  • Sustainable Land Management: Promote practices that protect soil health, conserve biodiversity, and ensure long-term food production.
  • Fair Trade Policies: Trade agreements should be reformed to promote sustainable agriculture and protect the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.


The land squeeze is a complex issue demanding a multifaceted solution. By addressing the underlying causes and supporting small-scale food producers, we can ensure equitable access to land, protect our environment, and build a more sustainable food system for the future.

Drishti Mains Question:

Q. Highlighting the threats of land squeeze discuss the land use pattern of India and challenges associated with it.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. With reference to the provisions made under the National Food Security Act, 2013, consider the following statements: (2018)

  1. The families coming under the category of ‘below poverty line (BPL)’ only are eligible to receive subsidised food grains.
  2. The eldest woman in a household, of age 18 years or above, shall be the head of the household for the purpose of issuance of a ration card.
  3. Pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to a ‘take-home ration’ of 1600 calories per day during pregnancy and for six months thereafter.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 3 only

Ans: (b)

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