The Netherlands is one of the most active countries in the world in terms of buying or leasing land in other countries, according to research published on Tuesday by The Land Matrix.
The Land Matrix is an independent organisation which monitors land sales around the world. It says Dutch companies own or lease land equal to over one third of its own size.
In total, Dutch firms and pension funds have bought or leased 1.26 million hectares of land. The biggest part is in the hands of Shell, which uses 754,000 hectares of land in Brazil to produce agro-fuels.
Wytske Chamberlain, one of the report’s authors, told the NRC on Tuesday that investors must always be aware of the risks. ‘They have to understand that they are investing in a place which is very different to that which they know,’ he said. ‘If they adapt [to local conditions] they have a better chance of success.’
In addition, transparency across the operation is crucial, he said. ‘It is very frustrating for locals if they see lorries full of palm oil driving off but earn nothing from it themselves,’ he said.
Malaysia, the United States, Britain, Singapore and Saudi Arabia top the list, followed by the Netherlands.