Agriculture and food.Rural development

Date of publication
Enero 2000
Geographical focus

This paper examines the challenges of institutional, organisational and policy reform around land in Southern Africa. It analyses the land situation in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and identifies key issues for further research in each of these countries.Findings include: there is a convergence of policy in key areas in the region, determining the current approach to land and land reform, which can be attributed to its growing exposure to the forces of globalisation, and with it the influence of the international neo-liberal orthodoxy this policy convergence is characterised by the privatisation of resources, the retreat by the state from key areas of the economy, the pursuit of foreign direct investment and sweeping deregulation of markets the drive to reorient economies in the region in line with the new global imperatives is promoted by donor governments and international financial institutions and has been embraced enthusiastically by the ruling parties in Mozambique and South Africa this discourse also underpins much of current debate in Zimbabwe, where the government is struggling to reconcile its antipathy to structural adjustment with the demands of foreign donors and the pending collapse of key sectors of the economy in its unalloyed form, the discourse of globalisation resolves the equity-efficiency dichotomy entirely in favour of efficiency and a distinct concept of livelihoods cannot be sustained a variation on the neo-liberal position promoted wider distribution of land on the basis that this will result in efficiency gains, thus leading to enhanced livelihood opportunities for the rural poor, but this enjoys little support outside academic circles within the emerging orthodoxy, a number of older discourses, which do not directly challenge the dominant position, live on the main challenge to the neo-liberal orthodoxy comes from a range of populist discourse, mainly associated with NGOs and church groups with varying degree of support from peasant movements with a few notable exceptions, popular participation has not been a major feature of land policy in the region in recent years, in terms of either policy formulation or implementation[adapted from author]

Date of publication
Enero 2003
Geographical focus

This paper explores and evaluates the impact of a new form of large-scale agriculture which is becoming an increasing phenomenon in southern Burkina Faso. With severe ecological deterioration and food deficits, small-scale agriculture is usually seen as the key to economic prosperity, social solidarity and sustainable management of local resources. However, a set of new stakeholders, comprising politicians, entrepreneurs and employees, is promoting large-scale agribusiness as a relevant and viable alternative for agricultural development in the country. This paper questions this argument.Conclusions include:the new form of large-scale agribusiness can only work if those promoting it have a clear plan that allows them to increase productivitymost new stakeholders have only vague ideas that are not formalised, and they act spontaneously with no real knowledge of the costs of setting up a large-scale farm or of the technical, economic and financial options availablethese stakeholders start their activity by clearing the land allocated and then cultivate it for many years without any additional inputs such as tree planting, erosion control or use of organic matter. This has disastrous consequences for the environment and plays a part in further erosion of the natural potential of the areas concernedthe process is increasingly coming to resemble land-grabbing that may, in the short or medium term, cause social tension when the resource shrinksthere can be no increased investment in the agricultural sector without consistent, appropriate measures to provide greater security of tenurecurrently the smallest farm is more cost-effective than large-scale farms in southern Burkina Faso, and therefore measures are necessary to ensure that the promotion of agribusiness is not undertaken to the detriment of small family farmsthere are examples that show that if conditions are right (transport facilities and, above all, marketing networks), small farmers are able to make significant progress towards modernising farming.[adapted from author]

Date of publication
Enero 2003

This paper analyses the relation between demographic transformation, agricultural transformation and land-use pressure within a simple agrarian economy, where population is treated both as a cause and consequence of economic changes.Conclusions of the paper include:population growth and food production are interrelated through two production activitiesagricultural land and labour are tied up in production of agricultural products determining the current flow of consumptionlabour is used for converting the natural resource base in the form of wilderness land into agricultural landincreasing returns to scale in food production together with an increasing amount of agricultural land, are the crucial factors behind high income per capita.[adapted from author]

AgEcon Search
Date of publication
Enero 2010

The number of people which the world must feed is expected to increase by 50% during the first half of this century, but will the world’s agricultural resource base be up to the task of meeting the diverse demands being placed on it? This paper reviews the evidence on the future supply and demand for agricultural land four decades from now and provide a critical evaluation of the potential for a perfect storm in land markets, worldwide.The paper indicates the following findings:  signs of slowing yield growth for key staple crops have been realised  public opposition to genetically modified crops has slowed growth in the application of promising biotechnology developments  at the same time, the growing use of biomass for energy generation has introduced an important new source of industrial demand in agricultural markets  furthermore, water is rapidly diminishing in availability in many parts of the world, and many soils are degrading  agriculture and forestry are likely to be the economic sectors whose productivity is most sharply affected by climate change As a result, the document concludes that:  the “perfect storm” in global food and agriculture could occur  however, the “perfect storm”, should it arise in 2050, will not be a global phenomenon  rather, it will consist of many localised “storms”  the prices at which the “perfect storm” in the global land markets will be resolved depend critically on the long run supply and demand elasticities in agricultural markets  nevertheless, it is not possible to adequately evaluate the supply and demand for land by operating at continental or national scales  indeed, spatial resolution is essential

Date of publication
Enero 2005
Geographical focus

Malawi has pursued an agricultural-led development strategy since independence in 1964. This was a dual strategy which promoted estate agriculture for export earnings on the one hand, and smallholder agriculture for food security and subsistence needs. Following relatively successful growth in the early post-independence era, economic liberalisation policies in the 1980s and 1990s contributed to a worsening poverty situation which has yet to be remedied.This policy briefing presents results of a study of the link between access to land and changes in poverty status in Malawi using household panel data in 1998 and 2002. It assesses the feasibility of land redistribution and implications for pro-poor agricultural development.The author concludes:equitable land redistribution is key - agricultural-based pro-poor strategies that do not address the question of access to land in Malawi will be as ineffective as they have been in the past four decadesas Malawi reviews its poverty reduction strategies, land reform and land use should be prioritised for the agricultural sector to generate pro-poor growthland redistribution alone is not sufficient for poverty reduction - the process must ensure that land is secure and households must be provided with base capital and extension services that will enable them make the best use of the landaccess to land must also be complemented by access to non-land assets, access to credit markets, access to extension services and training of beneficiaries in modern farming techniquessince agriculture in southern Africa is subjected to weather shocks, it is also important to invest in water harvesting facilities under the land reform programme to facilitate irrigation farming.This paper is a revised version of a 2004 report. [adapted from author]

Date of publication
Enero 2000
Geographical focus

The 1998 Land Act represents one of the most important pieces of legislation in Uganda, which is predominantly an agricultural country. The role of a consortium of NGOs, The Uganda Land Alliance (ULA), is analysed in this paper, with regard to the enactment of the Act. The issues addressed include: what the ULA's objectives were and the land issues it tackled how original the ULA was how significant the issues (and therefore clauses) addressed were to the protection of rights of the marginal groups how the ULA advanced its case and the limitations and strengths of its approaches what the lessons are that can be drawn from the struggle of the ULA to the theory of civil societyThe paper is written in four sections: the first examines the objectives of the ULA and the issues it dealt with. A brief history of the evolution of land tenure is given to flesh out the issues that animated the land debate. In addition, the technical background to the land bill and its early critics is described. the second, examines the methods the ULA used to lobby for land rights of the poor the third examines the contribution and failures of the ULA and provides reasons why this was so the fourth relates the experience of the ULA to current notions about civil society and democratic governanceThe author concludes that the ULA contributed in raising the awareness of the public. The author reflects possible long term consequences of that consciousness rising will empower those who suffer the brunt of bad policies to act to change them. However, the author notes that the ability of organisations such as ULA to push for democratic governance is dependent on the political and economic context.The author outlines the limitations of civil society and its influence on state policy, suggesting thatcivil society organisation registered with the state can only contribute reformist programmes to the governance of the country. The author believes that as long as pluralism is circumscribed by laws that prohibit freedom of association and the right to dissent, civil society organisations acting within the framework of the law can have only a limited contribution.

Date of publication
Enero 2005
Geographical focus

South African president Mbeki has characterised the developmental challenge in his country in terms of integrating the structurally disconnected ‘two economies’. On the one hand the modern industrial, mining, agricultural, financial and services sector, and on the other the ‘third world economy’ found in those urban and rural areas where the majority of poor people live.This draft chapter challenges this characterisation and focuses on the rural dimensions of the ‘two economies’ debate. It examines in particular the question of what contribution land and agrarian reform can make to reducing inequality and addressing the structural nature of rural poverty in post-apartheid South Africa.It suggests that the problem needs to be conceptualised in terms of an ‘agrarian question of the dispossessed’, that can only be resolved through a wide-ranging agrarian reform. This must include the redistribution of land and the securing of land rights, but must go beyond land questions and aim to restructure rural economic space, property regimes and socio-political relations. This approach is premised on the potential for ‘accumulation from below’ in both agricultural and non-agricultural forms of petty commodity production, and expanded opportunities for multiple livelihood strategies.The chapter suggests five core propositions as a possible basis for rethinking land and agrarian reform policies and programmes. These are:a wide-ranging programme of land reform is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the resolution of the agrarian question of the dispossesseda decisive break with market-led approaches to land reform is required; these must be replaced by an approach based on the central role of the state, together with progressive forces in civil society, in driving processes of land acquisition and redistributionarea-based land reform is required to create the conditions for agrarian reformparadigm shifts are required to focus state policies on agrarian reformpolicy makers questioning their widespread and deep-rooted scepticism about the potential for smallholder production and their consequent bias in favour of large-scale commercial productionthe multiple and diverse character of the livelihoods of the rural poor, and emerging opportunities for petty commodity production, must be a key focus of policygovernment must recognising its central role as in land and agrarian reform, and devote sufficient resourcesthe active participation of the ‘beneficiaries’ of agrarian reform in processes of policy-making, planning and implementation must be securedland and agrarian reform requires a major investment in capacity building as well as innovative institutional arrangementsThis is a draft chapter for a forthcoming book on “The Land Question in South Africa: the challenge of transformation and redistribution”, edited by Ruth Hall and Lungisile Ntsebeza (2005)

Date of publication
Enero 2004
Geographical focus

This document summarises the proceedings from a conference organised by International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) , Natural Resource insitute (NRI) and the Royal African Society in November 2004.The conference brought together a wide range of interest groups including, African policy makers, academics and civil society representatives, as well as representatives of the private sector and international agencies, to debate the way ahead for land rights and land reforms in Africa.The event addressed two key dimensions of land and property rigths in Africa today and their implications for future stability, prosperity and reduction: the links between propery rights, investment and the generation of econoimc opportunities in the context of global integration how best to secure access to land for farmers and the urban poor as the basis for imporved livelihoods and food security.Emphasis was placed on sharing experience from a range of African countries and a series of thematic discussions focussed on: formalising and securing land rights: diverse approaches from Africa gender, land rights and inheritance urban and peri-urban land development and land use conflict securing collective rights to land and natural resources.In conclusion to the conference, the African Union recognised that for African governments to take the lead in land policy and tenure they need to: give political support and long term commitement break the barriers that current donor mechanisms present put land issues into the wider economic development agenda use the technical support that donors can provide make training and capacity building essential skills to be learnt through learning networks and platforms build and share models of innovation that are rooted in locally developed innovation engage in policy dialogue to achieve radical new solutions to land issues in southern Africa.

Date of publication
Enero 1999

The paper considers: the question of whether the process of population ageing affects the ways in which land is passed on between members of different generationsthe likely implications of ageing-related changes in intergenerational transfers for food production in developing countriesThe paper concentrates primarily on rural population ageing in contexts where the individual ownership of land or natural resources is a predominant socio-economic phenomenon, although it also considers communal ownership situations.The authors conclude that: the need to conceptualize the elderly as a necessary element in exchange networks is commonly overlooked and omitted from policy considerations, yet this holds the most promise for developing creative new strategies to assure food security and social stabilitythe apparent intensity and durability of intergenerational exchange relationships suggest that national governments need to foster them, rather than ignore or erode them, and to support civil society institutions which do the sameinsights derived from the experience of population ageing in various rural settings can suggest the kind of policy interventions that will help to bring about a socially desired path of rural development in the future if the importance of population ageing for intergenerational transfers of land is confirmed, then establishing constructive, collaborative policies towards the elderly could be crucial for the outcomes of such transfers to be favourable to the agricultural sector.

Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi)
Date of publication
Enero 2006

This collection of briefing papers summarises select papers presented at the workshop: "Land Rights for African Development: From Knowledge to Action" held in November 2005. The workshop addressed key land tenure issues in Africa that influence food security, environmental sustainability, agricultural intensification, conflict, peace building and broader rural development.Issues covered by the 12 briefing papers contained in this collection include: the prevalence and importance of customary tenurethe prevalence and importance of common property arrangementsconstraints to women’s access under both customary and statutory tenurethe need to secure common property and other forms of tenurethe importance of broad based participation to secure broad consensus among multiple actors in order to enhance the efficiency, equity and sustainability objectives of land tenure reforms.The briefing papers also reflect on the innovations necessary for securing tenure for the poor under a variety of settings. These innovations include:adjusting received law to customary norms and rules of land holding and access, as opposed to outright replacing customary tenurealtering lending rules by banks and financial institutions to promote land-related investments (even on land regulated by customary and/or religious law)de-emphasising the notion of ownership and refocusing on use rights in order to secure women’s rights and accessrestructuring conventional land administration systems to support group-based rights structuresencouraging decentralised land management systems that reflect local cultural norms and practicesin situations of multiple, overlapping resource use, strengthening processes of negotiation and conflict resolution as opposed to a generic concern with substantive rights in order to secure the access of permanent and transitory resource users.A ten-step procedure is also suggested (Alden Wily), which would enable communities to restore their group rights and practices to create and control their own tenure norms. These innovations, while desirable, are also risky: corruption, elite capture, exclusion of "non-members" and lack of capacities have been hurdles faced by communities.Agreed outcomes from the workshop include the following:land tenure in Africa is complex: the existence of customary, religious and statutory arrangements (i.e. legal pluralism) is a critical, defining feature of African land tenure. Land tenure reform must accommodate this complexity rather than replace itthe pit-falls of formalisation should be avoided, and in particular tenure codification should be delinked from collateralisation: cheaper ways of registering rights than the cadastre are neededin order to effectively address land tenure security, power issues at local and national levels must be addressed: there is a need for a multi-level, multiple actor approach. Land tenure reform is an urgent governance issue that can best be addressed by all development partners in collaborationon evaluation: the implementation and impacts of land tenure reforms should be evaluated at multiple governance levels in order to identify constraints, craft solutions, and to ensure that reforms are securing the rights and livelihoods of women, the poor and marginalised groupson innovation: new innovations are needed over and above tinkering with existing possibilities. For instance, the development of centres for legal advice and assistance for both rural and urban dwellers may enable the poor to claim their rights and even challenge abuses of power.

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