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land-foe The phrase ‘global land grab’ has become a catch-all phrase to describe and analyze the current explosion of (trans) national commercial land transactions. Around the world, various state, corporate and civil society groups have reacted, albeit in different ways.

Some see this as a major threat to the lives and livelihoods of the rural poor worldwide, and so opposes such commercial land deals. Others see economic opportunity for the rural poor, although they are wary of corruption and negative consequences, and so calls for the improving land market governance feature prominently. And, of course, between these two extremes for and against large scale land purchases/sales are a range of intermediate positions offered by other groups.

In this context, in-depth and systematic enquiry is urgently needed in order to have deeper, meaningful and productive debates around causes and implications. FAC research will study the extent, nature and impact of what we define as define as cross-border, large-scale land deals that involve changes in land use and land property relations – through land purchases, land leases, and contract farming.

LEGEND: read the first bulletin from new land governance programme

‘Land: Enhancing Governance for Economic Development’ (LEGEND) is a new global DFID programme designed to mobilise knowledge and capacity for design and delivery of new country programmes, improve land governance as an essential and inclusive basis for economic development, and strengthen land and property rights at scale.

The first bulletin from the programme is out now and can be downloaded via the link below.

LEGEND Bulletin no.1 (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Debating land governance at CAADP

Presenters at the eventFuture Agricultures was represented at the 11th CAADP Partnership Platform in Johannesburg on 24 March 2015, by Ruth Hall, convenor of the Land theme.

Prof Hall spoke at a side event on ‘Improving Land Governance for Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural Transformation’, convened by the Land Policy Initiative. The other speakers were Eugene Rurangwa (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation) and Belay Demissie (Land Policy Initiative).

The Land Policy Initiative is a joint programme of the African Union, African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Economic Commision for Africa (UNECA).

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Women, land and the law


On the Future Agricultures blog, Helen Dancer offers reflections based on her new book, Women, Land and Justice in Tanzania.

Even as commercial pressures on land grow, in many areas small-scale agriculture and local customary systems of land tenure continue. The book explores women’s claims to land in practice, based on fieldwork in Tanzania and analysis of the legal system.

Blog: Realising women’s land rights: law, gender and farming in Tanzania

“We are aware of a plan to divide this lake into pieces”

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Fishing communities in Uganda are under threat from evictions and loss of access to Lake Victoria. Their story is one example of the takeover of land and water by businesses, governments and local elites.

To address the problem, there have been numerous efforts to halt and reverse such land acquisitons, including guidelines agreed at UN level. In a new blogpost, Ruth Hall describes a new project which examines whether these guidelines are making a difference to Uganda’s fisherfolk and other communities like them.

Can the UN’s land guidelines help Uganda’s threatened fisherfolk?

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Call for Papers: BRICS & Agrarian Change conference

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The BRICS Initiative for Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS) has issued a Call for Papers for an international conference with an African focus, with emphasis on transformations in food systems and implications for policy responses.

The conference, "Rural Transformations and Food Systems - The BRICS and Agrarian Change in the Global South", will be held in Cape Town on 20-21 April. The deadline for the call for papers is Friday 14 February 2015.

This conference follows on initial meetings of a founding BICAS collective in Beijing in 2013 and Brasilia in 2014 and the highly successful international academic conferences organised by the Land Deals Politics Initiative (LDPI) - Global Land Grabbing (Sussex, 2011) and Global Land Grabbing II (Cornell University, USA, 2012).

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Land grabbing and 'political reactions from below'

The Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS) has released a special issue on 'global land grabbing and political reactions from below', guest edited by Marc Edelman, Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones, Ben White and Wendy Wolford. The collection is free access for a limited period.

View the issue (Taylor & Francis website)

The special issue demonstrates that political reactions ‘from below’ to global land grabbing have been vastly more varied and complex than is usually assumed. The special issue is a collection of ground-breaking studies that discuss responses that range from various types of organized and everyday resistance to demands for incorporation or for better terms of incorporation into land deals.

Initiatives ‘from below’ in response to land deals have involved local and transnational alliances and the use of legal and extra-legal methods, and have brought victories and defeats. It is one of the publications that came out of the Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI) conference held in Cornell University in October 2012.

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Land policy in Africa: where next?


The first Conference on Land Policy in Africa was held in Addis Ababa in November 2014, organised by the African Union.

From the conference, FAC members have written articles exploring the future of land policy.

Tackling land questions: Searching for systematic solutions amid a web of politics by Rebecca Pointer

Does land titling work? by Ruth Hall and Steve Lawry (CIFOR)

7 ways to work for better land rights by Ruth Hall

Land policy for the next decade: Taking stock and moving forward by Ruth Hall

Challenging misconceptions: Inclusive agricultural economies already exist in Africa by Rebecca Pointer