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My land is my food: Exploring social function of large land deals using food security–land deals relation in five Eastern European countries

Petrescu-Mag, Ruxandra Mălina, Petrescu, Dacinia Crina, Reti, Kinga-Olga
Land use policy 2019 v.82 pp. 729-741
agricultural land, food security, issues and policy, land ownership, market economy, politics, socioeconomic factors, sustainable land management, Eastern European region
Food security provides a major topic for this study and the recurring point is food security–agricultural land relation. The analysis is grounded on the assumption that control over agricultural land means control over food. Effective control over land is one of the riskiest issues of large land deals. Permanent supply and sustainable access to quality food is influenced by structural socio-economic and political arrangements targeting agricultural land which often prevent individuals and entire communities from acquiring basic competencies and rights for their autonomy. The objective of the study is two folded: to investigate five Eastern European countries characteristics which are valued as determinants of food security–large land deals relation and to highlight the social utility of agricultural land property. Thus, the substantive theme of this study grows out of several observed streams of large land deals. In the first part, historical and economic influential factors connected to large land deals in Eastern Europe are approached, within the context of transition from centrally planned state economy to free market economy. The second part takes up the challenge to analyze the correlation between country characteristics that can impact on food security–land transaction relationship. Then, the paper goes on to introduce and explain, following Léon Duguit’s theory of social utility, aspects about the social function of agricultural land ownership. Based on non-parametric tests, which included a set of 14 socio-economic variables, the results show, for example, a strong positive correlation between the size of closed land deals and both the size of country land area and of land under cereal production. The paper concludes with several proposals targeting fair land arrangements and practices that have the potential to transform themselves in building blocks for future policies dedicated to sustainable land management and food security.