Farming as Financial Asset

Global Finance and the Making of Institutional Landscapes

Stefan Ouma

£20.00  |  $30.00
ISBN 9781788211871
220 pages   |  234 x 156mm   |  28 May 2020


"How and why is global agriculture being reconfigured to serve the interests of finance capital? This book answers these questions. In a provocative, scholarly analysis Stefan Ouma draws upon his extensive research across five continents to explain and critique the ‘financialization’ of rural space. It is essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of food and farming." – Geoffrey Lawrence, University of Queensland

"A vital analysis that historically and geographically contextualizes the rush of finance into agricultural investments since 2008. Against a dominant perspective that frames this trend as emblematic of financialized capitalism and its excesses, Ouma’s extensive global fieldwork affords insight into the practical operations of finance, the making of global agricultural investment chains, and the politics of these developments." – Desiree Fields, University of California, Berkeley

"A tour de force ... engagingly accessible, transdisciplinary, and global in outlook. By putting land in its place — at the heart of the current economic system — this book reconnects land economics to property economics, stitching back the rural to the urban which, in turn, is linked to the national, international, and to the global. This book is neither left nor right; it is original." – Franklin Obeng-Odoom, Society and Natural Resources


Since the global financial crisis, the world has seen a stark rise in financial investment in farming and agricultural production. Indeed, finance has been identified as one of the main causes of the so-called “global land rush”. In a world with a growing population that needs to be fed, the financial returns from agriculture are sold as safe bets. The debate that this has prompted has been frequently alarmist, with financiers blamed for rising land prices, corporate enclosures, the dispossession of smallholder farmers and the expansion of large-scale industrial agriculture.

Stefan Ouma speaks to these concerns via an ethnographic journey through the agrifocused asset management industry. His penetrating analysis of case studies taken from New Zealand and Tanzania allows him to put global finance “in place”, bringing into view the flesh-and-blood institutions, globespanning social relations, everyday practices and place-based value struggles that are often absent in broad-brushed narratives on the “financialization of agriculture”. The book closes with a key question for the Anthropocene: which form of finance for which kind of food future?


1. Introduction
2. Optic: how do we study the finance-farming nexus?
3. History: how old is the finance-farming nexus?
4. Numbers: what we know (and do not know) about finance-gone-farming
5. States: how are foreign investments in farming regulated and accounted for?
6. Value(s): why has the road to "greener pastures" been so bumpy?
7. Delegation: what happens inside the agri-investment chain?
8. Grounding: what does assetization look like from below?
9. Radices: food futures, with or without finance as we know it?

Author Information

Stefan Ouma is Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Bayreuth.

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