Book: Africa’s Land Rush

Africaslandrush1Africa has been at the centre of a “land grab” in recent years, with investors lured by projections of rising food prices, growing demand for “green” energy, and cheap land and water rights.

But such land is often also used or claimed through custom by communities. What does this mean for Africa? In what ways are rural people’s lives and livelihoods being transformed as a result? And who will control its land and agricultural futures?

The book Africa’s Land Rush, authored and edited by Future Agricultures researchers, explores these questions with case studies from around Africa.

Africa’s Land Rush: Rural Livelihoods and Agrarian Change
Edited by Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones and Dzodzi Tsikata
Published by James Currey, July 2015

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Read the first chapter (PDF)

More about the book


The most historically grounded, lucid and nuanced understanding to date of the complex political economy of the contemporary rush for land in Africa. – Prof Adebayo Olukoshi, former Executive Secretary, United Nations Institute for Development and former director of CODESRIA

Case studies

The case studies explore the processes through which land deals are being made; the implications for agrarian structure, rural livelihoods and food security; and the historical context of changing land uses, revealing that these land grabs may resonate with, even resurrect, forms of large-scale production associated with the colonial and early independence eras.

The book depicts the striking diversity of deals and dealers: white Zimbabwean farmers in northern Nigeria, Dutch and American joint ventures in Ghana, an Indian agricultural company in Ethiopia’s hinterland, European investors in Kenya’s drylands and a Canadian biofuel company on its coast, South African sugar agribusiness in Tanzania’s southern growth corridor, in Malawi’s “Greenbelt” and in southern Mozambique, and white South African farmers venturing onto former state farms in the Congo.


Ruth Hall is Associate Professor at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa; Ian Scoones is a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex and Director of the ESRC STEPS Centre; Dzodzi Tsikata is Associate Professor at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, Legon.



1  Introduction: The Contexts and Consequences of Africa’s Land Rush by Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones and Dzodzi Tsikata
2  State, Land and Agricultural Commercialisation in Kwara State, Nigeria by Joseph A. Ariyo and Michael Mortimore
3  Recent Transnational Land Deals and the Local Agrarian Economy in Ghana by Joseph Awetori Yaro and Dzodzi Tsikata
4  Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Ethiopia: Implications for Agricultural Transformation and Livelihood Security by Maru Shete and Marcel Rutte
5  Land Deals and Pastoralist Livelihoods in Laikipia County, Kenya by John Letai
6  Land Deals in the Tana Delta, Kenya by Abdirizak Arale Nunow
7  The State and Foreign Capital in Agricultural Commercialisation: The Case of Tanzania’s Kilombero Sugar Company by Emmanuel Sulle and Rebecca Smalley
8  Trapped between the Farm Input Subsidy Programme and Green Belt Initiative: Malawi’s Contemporary Agrarian Political Economy by Blessings Chinsinga and Michael Chasukwa
9  Agrarian Struggles in Mozambique: Insights from Sugarcane Plantations by Gaynor Paradza and Emmanuel Sulle
10  South African Commercial Farmers in the Congo by Ruth Hall, Ward Anseeuw and Gaynor Paradza