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Plantations and development

Briefing/policy papers

Both critics and supporters of plantations tend to think in terms of stereotypes. For critics, plantations are typically seen as enclaves owned or dominated by transnational corporations (TNCs), imperfectly integrated into the local economy, producing mainly for export, disruptive of smallholder food production, and offering poor conditions and low wages to their workers. Supporters see them as well-managed, capital intensive large farms, introducing the latest technology, achieving higher yields than possible under other forms of agricultural management, and contributing vital foreign exchange. Both images are partial and somewhat out-dated. Many developing country governments now see plantations as positive assets in generating employment and export income, despite past misgivings. However, the prospects for estate expansion are constrained by the market outlook and competing demands for land.