Agriculture needs a makeover to lure young people back to farming

On Mon, Aug 22, 2016

By: Magdalena Mis and Isaiah Esipisu
Date: August 22nd 2016
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Around the world, farmers are ageing as the sector fails to attract younger talent who head instead to cities in search of work

ROME/NAIROBI, Aug 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For Kenyan farmer Pauline Wafula, there was never a question that her children would have to get their hands dirty and learn how to grow their own food.

Land reform in Kenya has been marked by several significant milestones in recent years.

In 2009, the Kenyan Parliament approved the National Land Policy (NLP), which mandates land restitution or resettlement for those who have been dispossessed and calls for reconsideration of constitutional protection for the property rights of those who obtained their land irregularly. The NLP was supported by the ratification of a new Constitution in 2010. The Kenyan constitution holds that all land belongs to the people of Kenya, classifies land as public, community or private, establishes a National Land Commission and allows non-citizens to hold land only on the basis of leasehold tenure. Further progress was marked by the passage of the Land Act, Land Registration Act, and the National Land Commission Act in 2012.

Despite legislative advances, secure and equitable access to and control over land for all Kenyans remains elusive. Current land-related issues in Kenya include: historical land inequities and land conflicts (which contribute to violence and displacement, including after the 2007 presidential elections); gender discrimination impeding the realization of women’s land rights; water scarcity; demand for forest resources; urban poverty and urbanization; and the management of rangelands needed by pastoralists. 

Date of publication
Febrero 2014

 It is well recognized that secure land and property rights for all are essential to reducing poverty because they underpin economic development and social inclusion. Secure land tenure and property rights enable people in urban and rural areas to invest in improved homes and livelihoods. Although many countries have completely restructured their legal and regulatory framework related to land and they have tried to harmonize modern statutory law with customary ones, millions of people around the world still have insecure land tenure and property rights.

Lack of access to land and the fear of eviction epitomize a pervasive exclusion of poor people from mainstream social, economic and civic opportunities, especially women. To address these problems, tools and strategies to increase poor people’s access to secure land and housing tenure need to be devised. The Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), whose Secretariat is hosted by UN-Habitat, recognizes that security of tenure for the poor can best be improved by recognizing a range of types of land tenure beyond individual titles. The current thinking focuses on a “continuum of land rights” that is being promoted and increasingly accepted worldwide. 

In this synthesis report, the issue of tenure security is addressed and assessed in several countries where government, civil society, the private sector and development cooperation initiatives have been implemented for decades. The selected case studies from fifteen (15) countries ensure not only a geographic balance but they also represent countries with different socio-economic and land-related histories and that have followed different pathways. The studies’ key findings underline the still precarious state of tenure security in many countries.

The findings also show best practices for legal and administrative reforms that have generated incentives for long-term investment in land, or incentives to include the poor more comprehensively. The case studies will hopefully work as a kind of “compendium” on the current state of tenure security, its future challenges and perspectives. They will allow for comparisons between countries and regions and address, besides others, policy makers, the private sector, civil society organizations and donors. Also, they will help applied researchers and implementers of “ground checks” and may support students of different disciplines to cope better with complexity in tenure issues.

This work was undertaken through a joint endeavour with the Chair of Land Management at Technische Universität München (TUM) and the Sector Project Land Policy and Land Management of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The findings will enhance our knowledge of serious tenure security challenges and hopefully will inspire additional policy debate on implementation, inclusion, or incentives, as well as new research on secure land and property rights for all. The findings will also be useful to GLTN’s global partners (currently more than 63 consisting of professionals, development partners, research and training institutions, technical and civil society groups) to address land tenure and land reform, amongst other issues.

Date of publication
Febrero 2006

The World Trade Organization (WTO) hailed the recent Hong Kong Sixth Ministerial Meeting last December 2005 as a positive movement towards the conclusion of the Doha Development Round. The round was supposedly geared towards ensuring that trade contributes to the development objectives of least developed and developing countries. However, for most civil society groups around the world, the Hong Kong meeting was nothing but a step towards further liberalization, a prescription for countries to further open up their markets, despite its negative impact on small producers, especially small farmers, in developing economies.

Date of publication
Mayo 2007

A Special Product (SP) is an agricultural product “out of the WTO” in that they are not subject to tariff reductions, i. e. Countries can keep the right to maintain protective tariffs on certain agricultural products that are essential for food security, rural development, and farmers’ livelihoods. The G33 proposal is for 10% of developing country products to be exempt from tariff reductions, with an additional 10% of product lines to have limited tariff reductions. This would be somewhere in the range of 300 products. The US counter-proposal is for a mere 5 products! Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) means that if there is an import surge, countries have the right to increase protective tariffs. Why are SP and SSM important in the WTO negotiations? The issue of Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SP/SSM) is a key issue in the current Doha Round of negotiations. The SP/SSM seems to be one of few issues that developing countries are quite strong on, and that the US is strongly opposed to, meaning that if the developing countries (G33) stay strong in defense of SP/SSM, it could keep the Round deadlocked. If the Round goes through, then SP and SSM are measures to protect farmers from further damage from WTO rules. 

Date of publication
Agosto 2012
Geographical focus

About half of Kenya's rural
population (approximately 9 million people) was the poverty
line in 1992, a proportion unchanged from 1982. In urban
areas, approximately a million and a quarter persons or 30
percent of the population was below the poverty line. In the
early 1980s, Kenya's social indicators were distinctly
more favorable than those of most countries in the region,
and there was further progress. But many indicators
stagnated in the early 1990s. There are also persistent
differences between rural and urban areas and between the
poor and the non-poor. These are the findings of the Kenya
poverty assessment (March 1995) which is one of the few
studies in the region to document and measure changes in
poverty indicators over a decade. Using data from a number
of sources, it shows that while Kenya achieved some
improvement in its social indicators, the lack of sustained
per capita income growth resulted in continued poverty for
an increasing number. And that the benefits of good health
and education did not accrue to all.

Date of publication
Agosto 2012
Geographical focus

Between 1970 and 1992, the World Bank
assisted financially in about 15 wildlife-related projects
in Sub-Saharan Africa. The lending volume was US$ 368
million or about 1percent of the Bank's totals lending
during the same period. While geographically, these projects
have been concentrated in East Africa, especially Kenya, the
others are located in Somali, Malawi, Botswana, Cote
d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Ghana, the Central African
Republic, Burkina Faso, and Mali. The case studies focus on
four major themes: (i) the financial and economic viability
of wildlife; (ii) the significance of wildlife as meat or
'bush meat'; (iii) policy implications; and (iv)
environmental impact. Evidence in this last area, however,
remains qualitative and anecdotal. A critical hypothesis of
this study is that the property rights structure is a key
factor in determining the choice between wildlife and
livestock utilization.

Date of publication
Junio 2013
Geographical focus

Considerations of risk and vulnerability
are key to understanding the dynamics of poverty. This study
conceives vulnerability as expected poverty and illustrates
a methodology to empirically assess household vulnerability
using pseudo panel data derived from repeated cross sections
augmented with historical information on shocks. Application
of the methodology to data from rural Kenya shows that in
1994 rural households faced on average a 40 percent chance
of becoming poor in the future. Households in arid areas
that experience large rainfall volatility appear more
vulnerable than those in non-arid areas, where malaria
emerges as a key risk factor. Idiosyncratic shocks also
cause non-negligible consumption volatility. Possession of
cattle and sheep/goats appears ineffective in protecting
consumption against covariant shocks, though sheep/goat help
reduce the effect of idiosyncratic shocks, especially in
arid zones. Of the policy instruments simulated,
interventions directed at reducing the incidence of malaria,
promoting adult literacy, and improving market accessibility
hold most promise to reduce vulnerability.

Date of publication
Junio 2012
Geographical focus

The conclusions of the recently-conducted Kenya Investment Climate Assessment (ICA), based on a survey of 368 firms, have a bearing on the country's growth agenda. The results have a bearing on the key issue of labor productivity and its implications on firm performance, revealing that capital-intensity in Kenya was relatively high, compared to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and also to firms in China and India, but also relatively less productive. Labor productivity in Kenya had not improved materially over the past decade or so, so that unit labor costs compared very unfavorably with those prevailing in Asian countries like India, China, Indonesia or Thailand. Major constraints to doing business cited by firms in the survey related to infrastructure, tax administration and corruption. On infrastructure, power supply was seen as the most problematic, on account of the high number of outages, compounded by high losses in transmission and distribution. 64 percent of firms reported damage to equipment on account of power outages or fluctuations valued at nearly $15,000 per firm per year. To cope with these outages 70 percent of firms had acquired generators, further adding to the cost of doing business. Road and rail services were reported by most firms as being of very poor quality, and nearly a quarter of firms reported having to spend their own resources to improve the quality of roads in surrounding areas. On corruption, three quarters of firms surveyed reported this as a problem, though only about half reported having to spend resources in terms of unofficial payments.


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