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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.

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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Parliamentarians meet to respond to the 'land rush'

landhungerParliamentarians from Southern Africa met on (11-12 August 2014 to debate how foreign agricultural investment can bring benefits to local people, in the context of the ‘land rush’.

Land rights, food security and jobs are among the themes discussed at the Pan-African Parliament/SADC Parliamentary Forum event. This is the last in the current series of regional meetings on the topic.

For more information, see the event page: Making Agricultural Investment Work for Africa: A parliamentarian response to the land rush

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“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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Sustainable intensification: don't forget the politics

teaThe idea of 'sustainable intensification' has gained traction in recent years. But what does it mean for Africa?

In a new blog post, Ian Scoones argues that advocates of SI should pay more attention to social contexts and political choices about the direction of technology.

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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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New topic guide on Land published

land-odiA new topic guide on the subject of land, by Anna Locke (Future Agricultures Land theme) and Giles Henley, has been published. This is the latest in the Overseas Development Insitute’s 'Evidence on Demand' series.

It covers the following:

  • Growing interest in land: large-scale land acquisition
  • Reactions to rising interest in land at the national and international level
  • Land reform and policy: types, impacts and risks
  • Land in fragile and conflict-affected states
Evidence on Demand: Land Topic Guide

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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

Dams, flooding and displacement in Zimbabwe

tokwe-satelliteAhead of World Water Day 2014, Ian Scoones blogs on the fallout from recent dramatic flooding at the Tokwe Mukorsi dam in Zimbabwe.

The story highlights the links between water, energy and farming and what happens when plans go wrong. With displacements and relocations for some, and economic gains for others, it also raises questions about who wins and loses from big infrastructure projects.