Agribusiness: Risks and impacts in conflict-affected areas

Since the late 2000s, there has been a growing private (and public) interest in investing in agribusiness in emerging and developing countries. This paper examines the risk that companies in the agricultural sector might actually contribute to violent conflict.

While such investments can be high on returns and at the same time foster economic development, investments in conflict and fragile contexts, in particular, pose risks for companies and affected stakeholders. There are, for example, recurrent reports of farmers being shot for not selling their land to local landowners who tried to seal plantation deals with international business.

At the same time, there is also potential for development or even peacebuilding through agribusiness companies. One example is the ESCO Kivu SPRL company in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which changed its business model in order to provide jobs and income in a conflict-affected context. Another example is the beekeeping business that aimed to integrate conflict-affected youth in Uganda.

Recognising that it is important for companies to understand the risks and impacts of their operations, this report seeks to:

  • examine how companies in the agricultural sector might (unwittingly) contribute to violent conflict
  • identify potential risks and impacts of their investments in conflict-affected environments
  • reflect on possible opportunities for positive impact