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You are here: Home Magazines Global edition Securing the right to land

Securing the right to land

last modified Sep 01, 2015 11:41 AM

This issue of Farming Matters on a topic that is central to all small-scale farmers: land. Competition for land and power, and particularly the global increase of large scale land acquisitions, cause contestations about which land is rightfully owned and used by whom.

This edition explores a range of responses by different stakeholders to land use in the face of an intensifying struggle for land. Using examples from all over the world, the land issue shows how both farmers’ initiatives and good land governance can have a positive impact on what seems to be an growing problem worldwide.

Farming Matters | 27.4 | December 2011

Table of contents:

  • 3 - 3
    For small-scale farmers and sharecroppers in Indonesia, the Green Revolution has caused a lot of suffering since it began in the 1970s. Ibu Nasah has lived a tough and often indebted life, but she still owns a 0.3 hectare paddy field, which she cultivates. After joining a community Farmer Field School in a nearby village she has now become one of the facilitators in the local school.
  • 5 - 5
    Two hundred and twenty seven million hectares of land in developing countries – an area the size of Western Europe – has been sold or leased since 2001, mostly to international investors.
  • 6 - 6
    Deadline: March 1st 2012
  • 7 - 7
  • 8 - 9
    Discourses and approaches to land rights have a long and complicated history, as do the various social and political contexts in which these discussions take place. There are numerous drivers of the renewed contests for control over land. Recently, the convergence of crises in the supply of food, feed, fibre, and in the financial and energy sectors, have heightened the competition for land resources between groups with very different levels of power and influence. Land contestation is likely to increase exponentially in the coming years and will renew the urgency to both (re)frame questions of land rights and to consider new forms of resistance to land rights violations. This edition explores a range of responses by different people and organisations to ensuring land rights in the face of increased competition for land, which can only exacerbate the unresolved problems of poverty and food insecurity.
  • 10 - 13
    Innovative policies in Brazil, such as the Zero Hunger Programme, have significantly reduced poverty in the past decade. Yet, land distribution remains a serious challenge: 46% of all land is controlled by 1% of the population. In Araponga, farmers have not only been able to acquire land: they have increased their options in a sustainable manner.
  • 14 - 17
    Interview > Madiodio Niasse - In an interview with Farming Matters, Maididio Niasse, the director of the International Land Coalition, highlighted the importance of an open discussion and of sharing information.
  • 18 - 20
    What is the definition of a herder? Are you still a pastoralist if you move your ger (the herders' tent) only twice a year? And what if you start growing crops? With an increasing number of competing land claims, Mongolian herders are changing their lifestyles, and this is leading to their position in society being reconsidered. If existing regulations do not support them, should new ones be put in place?
  • 21 - 21
    While at the start of 2011 "a dangerous conspiracy of silence on the subject of land grabbing" seemed to be in place, more and more organisations are showing what’s really happening, says Robin Palmer. More and more information is coming from the ILC, GRAIN, ActionAid, ...
  • 22 - 23
    Over the past year ILEIA has contributed to the knowledge management activities of IFAD’s East and Southern Africa Division by facilitating a documentation process in Uganda. This involved representatives of four different projects, all of them interested in drawing out specific lessons from their work. In the words of Carole Idriss-Kanago, the Associate Country Programme Manager, this process has helped participants to “identify those points which make us special and value the importance of sharing them with others”.
  • 24 - 26
    Land governance is the process by which decisions are made regarding access to and use of land and natural resources, the manner in which those decisions are implemented, and the way that conflicting interests are reconciled. In rural areas, informal processes managed by families or communities are often more important for accessing land than statutory law and processes; hence the need for supporting these existing systems. The growing demand for land also means an increasing role for local governments.
  • 27 - 27
    For more than forty years, Landesa has been striving to secure land rights for the world’s poorest families. With headquarters in Seattle, Washington, its work is based on the firm belief that having legal rights to land is the first condition for prosperity. “We’ve learned”, explained Landesa’s CEO, Tim Hanstad, “that when a family has land of their own, they have the opportunity and the means to improve nutrition, income and shelter. We’ve seen that when land rights are secure, the cycle of poverty can be broken - for an individual, a family, a village, a community and entire countries.”
  • 28 - 29
    Land is more than a production resource. In the rural areas of countries like Nepal it determines an individual’s socio-economic status, and is therefore strongly related to power issues. Landlessness and insecure land ownership are the major causes of poverty, social injustice and food insecurity. Tackling these issues therefore means influencing policies in favour of more land rights.
  • 30 - 31
    Speciality crops for pacific islands / More on land grabbing
  • 32 - 33
    Twenty years ago, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many of the recommendations made in 1992 are still valid today. In June 2012 government delegations and numerous others will go to Rio again, to take stock of what has been achieved over the past twenty years and to address new challenges. All over the world preparations are already in full swing for the 2012 conference, “Rio+20”.
  • 34 - 35
    Farmers’ access to land is greatly dependent on the laws and regulations on land ownership and land use in a country. But legislation is often not enough to ensure fair and equal distribution of property, whereby farmers can feel secure of their rights to the land they work. Here are some examples from different countries.
  • 36 - 38
    Evidence suggests that foreign or private investments in land in Nicaragua have not occurred at the same rate as in other countries, but there are many competing claims to land. Coffee co-operatives have secured higher prices, helping vulnerable populations, but most co-operative members are men. Alternative approaches are helping those worst off: women farmers.
  • 39 - 39
    Eric Holt-Gimenez argues that “Wall Street has been occupying our food system”, and this has had disastrous results. In 2008 and again in 2010, prices for staple crops like rice, wheat, and corn doubled and tripled, extending the grip of poverty and deprivation to hundreds of millions of people.
  • 40 - 41
    The global food system is broken, according to Oxfam’s GROW campaign. Land grabs are a horrific symptom of this broken system. This is clearly presented in “Land and power: The growing scandal surrounding the new wave of investments in land”, the recently released Oxfam report.
  • 42 - 85
    The enormous number of people living below the poverty line, the current food crisis and the land grabbing processes currently taking place throughout the world, show clearly that conventional economic wisdom does not always follow common sense. There are more than enough arguments for further developing the smart model of millions of small-scale farmers.
  • 45 - 45
    “Investments” in southern India have very negative consequences, says Suprabha Seshan. "In my immediate neighbourhood, a tea farm sells at 1 million rupees an acre. A few years ago it would have been a fifth of this price. Of course this means that rural people are leaving the countryside. They are leaving independent and stable (though, not easy) lives to become consumers in the shanty towns around cities."
  • 46 - 47
    Land can be seen as a farmer’s most precious resource, and access to land has been identified as a basic right. Ensuring these rights is particularly difficult at a time of climate, food, or economic crisis. What specific issues should be taken into account? Network colleagues shared some of their opinions.
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