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Report, 2020

How can an agricultural investment that never happened affect people living in poverty?

Engström, Linda;


The idea of promoting large-scale agricultural investment in order to achieve rural development in Africa has been strongly promoted by governments, bilateral and global development agencies since the early 2000’s. However, it is becoming widely recognized that many of these investments never materialize. So far, few studies have tried to understand this trend of failure. The main aim of my doctoral research was to contribute to the knowledge about how and why this new wave of largescale agricultural investment so far has failed to deliver proposed outcomes, through studying a Swedish sugar-cane investment in Tanzania. One of the most important findings was that stalled or failed projects can have quite serious negative impacts on people living in poverty, not least pastoralists and smallholder farmers living on or using the land leased by the investor. This brief will outline how it is possible that something that never happened can have severe impacts. It makes the point that delayed or failed investments need much more attention in development policy. Finally, it will provide some policy messages on how development practitioners can work to avoid that such “non-materialized” investment projects harm people living in poverty.

Published in

EBA Dissertation Brief

2020, number: 2020:01
Publisher: Expert Group for Aid Studies

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science
Globalization Studies

URI (permanent link to this page)