To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

August 11, 2008

Small scale African farmers risk to lose in scramble for land by foreign investors

Small-scale farmers with limited knowledge of their rights stand to lose most as countries such as China and Saudi Arabia expand their quest for African farmland, analysts have warned. High commodity prices and surging demand at home have seen countries in the Middle East and Asia seek to tap into Africa to feed their domestic markets.

But the scramble for land is often taking place in weak legal environments in which most farmers lack formal tenure rights or access to compensation mechanisms.

Camilla Toulmin, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development and author of a new report on the impact of land transfers in Africa, said there is a false perception that there are vast, empty tracts of land in Africa that can be hived off with little consequence. “The problem is that local communities have a genuine stake in land which is unrecognised in law. Giving away land without consulting these communities will lead to gross disparities,” she said.

The United Arab Emirates has also expressed interest in securing leases and the Egyptian government has held talks with Sudan. Other investors are looking to countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, Senegal and Nigeria for farmland.

Tanzanian lawyer Ednah Mndeme, who works for the Lawyers Environmental Action Group, which campaigns for land rights, said legal reforms should precede large-scale deals offering land to investors.
Local communities, she said, have claims to land dating back centuries and view it not only for agriculture but as a part of their social and political systems. But in many African countries they have only user rights rather than formal tenure.

“It is important that governments set down an acceptable procedure for transfer of land that involves negotiation with local communities and allows them to assert their rights,” she said.

Calestous Juma, a Harvard University professor who heads the Victoria Institute of Science and Technology, which is working to boost productivity in western Kenya, said land reform should make Africa a more attractive destination for foreign investors, while also enabling local farmers to access capital and improve their own agricultural productivity.

Financial Times

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP