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Inclusive business models in agriculture? Learning from smallholder cane growers in Mozambique
(Policy Briefs)

Future Agricultures / PLAAS Policy Brief 66 Emmanuel Sulle, Ruth Hall and Gaynor Paradza

Amidst the increasing corporate investment in African farmland the term ‘inclusive business model’ has become a catchphrase touted as an opportunity for incorporating smallholder farmers alongside large-scale commercial farming projects. Inclusive business models require an enabling institutional and regulatory framework. Such frameworks now exist at the international level: the African Union Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa and FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance on the Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forest in the Context of National Food Security provide a starting point. If translated and implemented, these guidelines can help develop transparent and accountable mechanisms that enable and strengthen the participation of smallholder farmers in the process of commercialisation, such as in the sugar industry in Mozambique.

To enable equitable partnerships between corporate investors and small-scale farmers, governments need to prioritise public investment in agriculture, including research and development, that helps smallholder farmers increase and diversify their agricultural produce. Smallholders’ access to, ownership of and control over land and other resources should be secured. Based on our analysis of current large-scale sugar estates and milling companies, as well as smallholder involvement as outgrowers in the Mozambican sugar industry, this policy brief interrogates policy and suggests mechanisms for enabling and strengthening smallholder farmers’ participation in and securing returns from large scale investments.

Land Grabbing in Africa and the New Politics of Food
(Policy Briefs)

Policy Brief 41

by Ruth Hall

'Africa is for sale’ is how some characterise it: there is a ‘land grab’ underway. Others are more cautious, speaking of ‘large-scale land acquisitions’, while the World Bank notes euphemistically the ‘rising global interest in farmland’. Whatever the prevailing terminology and ideologies, there is now ample evidence that large swathes of African farmland are being allocated to investors, usually on long-term leases, at a rate not seen for decades—indeed, not since the colonial period. The fact that much of this land is being acquired to provide for the future food and fuel needs of foreign nations has, not surprisingly, led to allegations that a neo-colonial push by more wealthy and powerful nations is underway to annex the continent’s key natural resources.

Land, Land Policy and Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia
(Policy Briefs)
By Samuel Gebreselassie

Land and land tenure is a hot policy issue in Ethiopia. Three key issues are raised – farm size and fragmentation and the question of what is a ‘viable’ farm unit; tenure security and whether lack of land registration/certification or titling undermines investment in productivity improvements; and finally the issue land markets and whether imperfectly functioning markets constrain opportunities for land consolidation, investment and agricultural growth.

Large-scale Commercial Agriculture in Africa: Lessons from the Past
(Policy Briefs)

Policy Brief 65 by Rebecca Smalley

African agriculture is in a phase of rapid commercialisation. Planners and investors in sub-Saharan Africa urgently need to consider how the choice of business model, the local context and the political environment affect outcomes of commercial ventures. A review of past experiences with three commercial farming models reveals the conditions that have provided the most stable environment for investors but also protected the most vulnerable in society and created the best chance for technology transfer and local economic linkages. These lessons from history have contemporary relevance.

Large-scale Land Deals, Food Security and Local Livelihoods
(Policy Briefs)

CAADP Policy Brief 10by Kate Wellard-Dyer

Large-scale foreign land acquisitions - land grabs - are major and real concerns for African populations.   The consequences of land deals are highly significant for local populations and the environment. Some see economic opportunities for local communities through employment and income generated from leasing or selling land. Others see land alienation as a major threat to local livelihoods, food security and the environment. The question is whether ‘win-win’ models exist - benefitting local people as well as providing an economic return to investors.  This policy brief draws on latest research by Future Agricultures. It asks: What are the drivers behind large-scale land deals in Africa and who are the main players? What is the impact of land deals on livelihoods and food security of existing land users? What can governments do to protect smallholder livelihoods?

French version: Les Transactions Foncières à Grande échelle, la Sécurité Alimentaire et les Moyens de Subsistance
Lessons for the New Alliance and Land Transparency Initiative: Gender Impacts of Tanzania's...
(Policy Briefs)

Full title: Lessons for the New Alliance and Land Transparency Initiative: Gender Impacts of Tanzania’s Land Investment Policy

Policy brief 67 Helen Dancer

There are gender-differentiated impacts when land is harnessed for commercial investment. Land policy needs to address the gendered nature of power relations within families and land tenure systems, and the implications of rural social relations on processes of community consultation, land management and dispute settlement. Without this, land investment policies will not reach their goals of tenure security for all, agricultural productivity and increased revenue. From the outset the full participation of women as well as men, good local leadership and gender-sensitive business practices at the local level are needed, to ensure that the fruits of land-based investment deals in the countryside are gender-equitable.

Reframing the New Alliance Agenda: A Critical Assessment based on Insights from Tanzania
(Policy Briefs)

Future Agricultures / PLAAS Policy Brief 56by Emmanuel Sulle and Ruth Hall

A dedicated investment in smallholder farmers to enable them to improve their land use and productivity is critical to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth in African countries.  The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (‘New Alliance’) focuses on public-private partnership (PPPs) with local investors and multinational corporations (MNCs) to produce food. However, this is unlikely to solve chronic problems of hunger, malnutrition and poverty because of under-investment in smallholder agriculture, and the rolling back of state support following structural adjustment programmes from the 1980s onwards.

The initial signs of New Alliance implementation, instead of reversing this chronic under-investment in smallholder agriculture, suggest the adoption of corporate agriculture, either turning smallholder farmers into wage workers and hooking them into value chains in which they have to compete with MNCs, or expelling them to search for alternative livelihoods in the growing cities. Although tempered by promotion of ‘outgrower’ schemes, in practice this agenda promotes large-scale commercialisation. We argue that African countries engaging with the New Alliance should focus instead on securing citizens’ access to land, water and improved governance. African countries have a better chance of addressing the root causes behind rural poverty and low agricultural productivity by investing directly in smallholder farmers themselves.

The Green Belt Initiative and Land Grabs in Malawi
(Policy Briefs)

FAC Policy Brief 55by Blessings Chinsinga and Michael Chasukwa

There is often a mismatch between the apparent benevolent intents and the practical manifestations of the large scale land deals. The empirical realities of the large-scale land deals call for critical scrutiny and interrogation of the underlying interests of the stakeholders involved to assess the extent to which they genuinely prioritize win-win scenarios. As the experiences of the Green Belt Initiative (GBI) in Malawi demonstrated, the smallholder farmer is almost always the loser.

This raises doubt as to whether the international initiatives such the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) voluntary guidelines on responsible governance of tenure of land and other natural resources; the World Bank’s principles for responsible agricultural investment; and the Africa Union’s (AU) framework and guidelines on land policy shall make any significant difference on the actual outcomes of the large-scale land deals across the continent.

Agrarian Labour Relations in Zimbabwe after Over a Decade of Land and Agrarian Reform
(Working Papers)

Walter ChambatiApril 2013

This paper begins highlights some key features that shape agrarian labour relations in Zimbabwe, illustrated through the setting of Goromonzi district. The new agrarian structure that forms the basis of the reconfigured agricultural production systems and labour relations is then analysed. This allows for the examination of the labour mobilisation patterns among the different classes of producers resulting from agrarian restructuring. The assessment of the material conditions that farm labourers derive from selling labour in various ways and their responses to the challenges they face precede the conclusions.

The new agrarian labour relations are explored using empirical research in Goromonzi district. Research undertaken by the African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS) since 2002, including a baseline survey in 2006 of 695 landholders and 173 farm workers in Goromonzi is used to illustrate the outcomes prior to economic stabilisation in 2009.iii The analysis draws from the results of the survey reported in Moyo et al. (2009) and the data referenced as AIAS (2007). Qualitative surveys in Goromonzi in 2012 are used to trace the dynamic changes to agrarian labour relations as further land redistribution occurred and the macro-economic context and agrarian policies shifted. Data was collected through interviews and observations from farm labourers, landholders, farm compounds, traditional authorities and state officials.

Biofuels Investment and Community Land Tenure in Tanzania
(Working Papers)

Future Agricultures Working Paper 73Emmanuel Sulle and Fred NelsonDecember 2013

Like much of sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania has experienced a surge in land-based investment during the past decade. While expanding private investment in agriculture is a core ambition of the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, experiences of prior investments raise questions about possible negative impacts. A notable element of this pattern of international private investment in Tanzania has been the emergence of biofuels as a form of agriculture; biofuel investments occurred rapidly and on a large scale around 2005–2008, with about four million hectares around the country requested for allocation to commercial biofuel projects. Many of those investments were large-scale projects based on the cultivation of jatropha or sugarcane, headed by European companies. One of the most well-known biofuel investments was that of Bioshape, which acquired approximately 34,000 ha in Kilwa District for the cultivation of jatropha.

The report documents, insofar as is possible using available information, the process Bioshape and government authorities at national and district level undertook to acquire the land from the four villages in Kilwa where Bioshape established operations.

Grazing rights in Namibia’s communal areas: A case study of a local land grabbing dispute...
(Working Papers)

Full title: Grazing rights in Namibia’s communal areas: A case study of a local land grabbing dispute in Western Kavango region

Future Agricultures Working Paper 93 Theodor MuduvaJune 2014

While conflict and competition over land is a major trend in Africa, and there are allegations of ‘land grabbing’ of large areas of land from local people, usually by foreign companies, other more localised forms of competition over land are less well understood. This paper presents the case of disputes over grazing land between local communities in Northern Namibia and pastoralists/ herders who entered the area and engage in alleged illegal grazing and fencing of communal land for their large herds of cattle. Fencing off of communal land (without authorisation) is forbidden in Namibia by the Communal Land Reform Act.

Narratives of scarcity: understanding the ‘global resource grab’
(Working Papers)

Future Agricultures Working Paper 76Ian Scoones, Rebecca Smalley, Ruth Hall and Dzodzi Tsikata February 2014

Global resource scarcity has become a central policy concern, with predictions of rising populations, natural resource depletion and hunger. Resulting narratives of scarcity drive behaviour and justify actions to harness resources considered ‘under-utilised’, leading to contestations over rights and entitlements and producing new scarcities. Yet scarcity is contingent, contextual and above all political. We present an analysis of three framings – absolute scarcity, relative scarcity and political scarcity – associated with the intellectual traditions of Malthus, Ricardo and Marx, respectively. A review of 134 global and Africa-specific policy and related sources produced over the past six years demonstrates how diverse framings of scarcity – what it is, its causes and what is to be done – are evident in competing narratives that animate debates about the future of food and farming in Africa and globally. We argue that current mainstream narratives emphasise absolute and relative scarcity, while ignoring political scarcity. We suggest a more political framing of scarcity requires paying attention to how resources are distributed between different needs and uses, and so different people and social classes. This requires, we argue, a policy emphasis for land and resource issues on rights and access, and distributional issues, centred on equity and justice.

Plantations, Contract Farming and Commercial Farming Areas in Africa: A Comparative Review
(Working Papers)

FAC Working Paper 55Rebecca Smalley

There is uncertainty and no small controversy surrounding the potential impacts of commercial agricultural developments that are being proposed for sub-Saharan Africa by domestic governments and foreign investors. Much of the debate concerns how Africa’s rural poor could be affected. One response is to look back and review what the outcomes have been from earlier such developments. This should include consideration of the institutional setting to help us understand how institutions influence the character and outcome of commercial agricultural schemes.

This working paper assesses the historical experience of three farming models that have figured in recent investments in sub-Saharan Africa: plantations, contract farming and commercial farming areas. Based on a literature review, the paper concentrates on the involvement of, and effects on, rural societies in and around the area where the schemes were located. It looks mainly at sub-Saharan Africa but also considers case studies from Latin America and Asia.

This paper was produced as part of the Land and Agricultural Commercialisation in Africa (LACA) project.

The role of the state and foreign capital in agricultural commercialisation: the case of sugarcane..
(Working Papers)

Full title: The role of the state and foreign capital in agricultural commercialisation: The case of sugarcane outgrowers in Kilombero District, Tanzania

Working Paper 106 Rebecca Smalley, Emmanuel Sulle and Lameck Malale

Since the launch of the Kilimo Kwanza (‘Agriculture First’) slogan in 2009, the Tanzanian government has been part of efforts to inject foreign capital into its country’s agricultural sector. A range of domestic and international players have developed plans to facilitate private acquisition of farmland; increase investment in irrigation and value addition; deepen the penetration of agribusiness; and bring more of Tanzania’s small-scale farmers into commercial agriculture, particularly through outgrower arrangements. The plans include the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor project (SAGCOT), a public–private partnership focused on Tanzania’s south-central region, and Big Results Now, which aims at achieving rapid progress in commercialisation and other agricultural policies in priority crops (Cooksey 2013). Sugar is a target sector.

One of the areas of Tanzania in which development is planned, the Kilombero Valley, already has a nucleus– outgrower sugarcane business. This working paper presents findings from a study of the sugarcane business in Kilombero. We argue that a dramatic but poorly planned expansion of the outgrower sector, combined with farmer services being transferred or reduced, has created wealth but also systemic weaknesses that are linked to falling returns for many outgrowers and a wider problem of land scarcity. The solution to these problems lies with the state, the company and associations of cane growers, as well as sugar industry regulatory institutions.

Land, Land Policy and Smallholder Agriculture in Ethiopia
(Discussion Papers)

By Samuel Gebreselassie

Land is a public property in Ethiopia. It has been administered by the government since the 1975 radical land reform. The reform brought to an end the exploitative type of relationship that existed between tenants and landlords. Tenants became own operators with use rights, but with no rights to sell, mortgage or exchange of land. The change of government in 1991 has brought not much change in terms of land policy. The EPRDF-led government that overthrew the Military government (Derg) in 1991 has inherited the land policy of its predecessor. Even though the new government adopted a free market economic policy, it has decided to maintain all rural and urban land under public ownership. The December 1994 Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia proclaimed that ‘Land is a common property of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of transfer’. Since the 1975 land reform, which made all rural land public property, the possession of land plots has been conditional upon residence in a village. The transfer of land through long-term lease or sales has been forbidden1, and government sponsored periodic redistribution, though, discouraged administratively since the early 1990s, has not been outlawed (Mulat, 1999).

La lutte pour les terres collectives: feux de savane annuels et schémas transnationaux de...
(Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French)

Titre complet: La lutte pour les terres collectives: feux de savane annuels et schémas transnationaux de plantation de mangues dans le nord du Ghana

Point info 62 Joseph A. Yaro et Dzodzi Tsikata

Le nord du Ghana est caractérisé par l’agriculture pluviale, le manque d’infrastructures, la production de cultures alimentaires et une faible agriculture d’exportation. La production agricole industrielle de cultures d’exportation est l’une des nombreuses pistes proposées pour réduire la pauvreté dans la région. Cependant, des feux de savane détruisent chaque année des investissements dans l’agriculture commerciale et alimentaire en raison de la méconnaissance de la nature et du but de ces incendies. On ne peut pas se contenter de limiter les causes sous-jacentes et la maîtrise des incendies à des causes manifestes ; ils résultent de causes sociopolitiques telles que le mécontentement quant aux processus de marginalisation et d’exclusion sociale. On peut dès lors se demander dans quelle mesure l’introduction d’un projet agricole moderne de plantations de mangues destinées à l’exportation est plausible et efficace pour améliorer l’économie locale du Nord du Ghana.

Ce Point Info se penche sur le modèle agricole contractuel de la société ITFC (Integrated Tamale Fruit Company), qui correspond bien à l’approche gouvernementale de la commercialisation de l’agriculture par la chaîne de valeur et principalement axée sur l’exportation. Les feux de savane ne sont pas nécessairement destructifs, contrairement au discours politique actuel, mais il est important de comprendre les utilités diverses de ces incendies, leur durée et la gestion négociée des ressources naturelles, y compris de la terre, pour régler l’utilisation des feux d’une manière bénéfique pour tous les usagers de la terre.

L’accaparement des terres en Afrique et les nouvelles politiques alimentaires
(Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French)

Point info 41 par Ruth Hall

«L’Afrique est à vendre», comme le disent certains; un «accaparement des terres» est en cours. D’autres sont plus prudents et parlent «d’acquisitions de terres à grande échelle», tandis que la Banque mondiale souligne par euphémisme «l’intérêt croissant pour les terres agricoles dans le monde». Quelle que soit la terminologie ou l’idéologie en vigueur, il est désormais largement prouvé que de vastes étendues de terre agricole africaine sont attribuées à des investisseurs, généralement sur base de baux à long terme, à un prix inédit depuis plusieurs dizaines d’années et même depuis la période coloniale. Étant donné que ces terres sont souvent acquises pour assurer les besoins futurs en nourriture et en carburant de pays étrangers, on ne s’étonnera pas du fait que les pays plus riches et plus puissants soient accusés de néocolonialisme dans le but d’annexer les ressources naturelles et essentielles du continent.

L’initiative de la ceinture verte et l’accaparement des terres au Malawi
(Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French)

Point info 55 par Blessings Chinsinga et Michael Chasukwa

Il y a souvent un décalage entre les intentions en apparence bienveillantes et les manifestations pratiques des accords fonciers à grande échelle. Les réalités empiriques de ces accords appellent à étudier en profondeur et à questionner les motivations cachées des intervenants impliqués afin d’évaluer si leur priorité est réellement de développer des situations gagnant-gagnant. Comme l’ont démontré les expériences de l’initiative de la ceinture verte (GBI, Green Belt Initiative), les petits exploitants sont presque toujours les perdants. Cela fait donc douter de la capacité des initiatives internationales – comme les directives volontaires sur la gouvernance responsable de la tenure des terres et des autres ressources naturelles de l’Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture (FAO), les principes de la Banque mondiale pour un investissement agricole responsable et le Cadre et les lignes directrices sur les politiques foncières de l’Union africaine (UA) – à améliorer significativement les résultats des accords fonciers à grande échelle sur le continent. Depuis l’introduction du programme de subventions aux intrants agricoles (FISP, Farm Input subsidy Programme) lors de la période de végétation 2005/2006, le Malawi occupe une place importante dans les débats politiques sur la sécurité alimentaire et le secteur agricole florissant à travers le continent.

Redéfinir le programme de la Nouvelle Alliance: une évaluation critique sur base du cas...
(Briefings politiques / Policy briefs in French)

Point info 56 par Emmanuel Sulle et Ruth Hall

Pour réaliser une croissance durable et inclusive dans les pays africains, il est essentiel d’investir spécifiquement dans les petites exploitations agricoles, afin de leur permettre de mieux utiliser leurs terres et d’améliorer les rendements agricoles. La Nouvelle alliance pour la sécurité alimentaire et la nutrition (« Nouvelle Alliance ») se concentre sur les partenariats public-privé (PPP) avec des investisseurs locaux et des entreprises multinationales pour produire des denrées alimentaires. Toutefois, cette initiative ne résoudra probablement pas les problèmes chroniques de faim, de sousalimentation et de pauvreté, en raison des investissements insuffisants dans les petites exploitations agricoles et du démantèlement des aides publiques suite aux programmes d’ajustement structurel menés depuis les années 1980. Plutôt que de remédier à cette insuffisance chronique des investissements dans les petites exploitations agricoles, il semble que les premières interventions de la Nouvelle Alliance aillent dans le sens de la promotion d’une agriculture industrielle.

Development and Change: Governing the Global Land Grab: The Role of the State in the Rush for Land
(Journal special issues)

Development and ChangeMarch 2013Volume 44, Issue 2Pages 189–471Issue edited by: Wendy Wolford, Saturnino M. Borras Jr., Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones, Ben White

Published by Wiley-Blackwell (Oxford) on behalf of the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Development and Change appears six times per year.

This issue of Development and Change is linked to the work of the Land Deal Politics Initiative, supported by the Future Agricultures land theme.

Governing Global Land Deals The Role of the State in the Rush for Land Wendy Wolford, Saturnino M. Borras Jr., Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones and Ben White

State Involvement, Land Grabbing and Counter-insurgency in Columbia Jacobo Grajales

Road Mapping: Megaprojects and Land Grabs in the Northern Guatemalan Lowlands Liza Grandia

Land Regularization in Brazil and the Global Land Grab Gustavo de L.T. Oliveira

Negotiating Environmental Sovereignty in Costa Rica Dana J. Graef

Building the Politics Machine: Tools for 'Resolving' the Global Land Grab Michael B. Dwyer

Indirect Dispossession: Domestic Power Imbalances and Foreign Access to Land in Mozambique Madeleine Fairbairn

Competition over Authority and Access: International Land Deals in Madagascar Perrine Burnod, Mathilde Gingembre and Rivo Andrianirina Ratsialonana

Regimes of Dispossession: From Steel Towns to Special Economic Zones Michael Levien

The Political Construction of 'Wasteland': Governmentality, Land Acquisition and Social Inequality in South India Jennifer Baka

Chinese Land-Based Interventions in Senegal Lila Buckley

Identity, Territory and Land Conflict in Brazil LaShandra P. Sullivan