A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

In search of better farmland governance in Africa

June 13, 2016

In early June in Strasbourg, members of the European Parliament voted by a clear majority a resolution calling for the review of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN). The controversial program, initiated by the G8 in 2012 and supported by the European Union, is based on the premise that investment in agriculture by international private firms will boost agricultural production, and consequently improve food security and cut down poverty. For Olivier de Schutter, one of perils of this new alliance is that it favors the private sector at the expense of government authorities, and that “small farmers are not gaining from economic development”1. The resolution adopted by the MEPs specifically deplores “the instances of land grabbing by private companies indirectly co-financed by the EU”2.

In fact, “in Africa, only 10 percent of rural land is registered. The remaining 90 percent does not match any land deed and is informally managed, which opens the door to abuses––land grabbing, expropriations without fair compensation and corruption”, said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa in a 2013 statement3.

Today, the issue of implementing farmland governance in Africa is becoming increasingly unrelenting, at a time when land acquisitions by public or private investors have intensified since the 2008 food crisis. As a result, the data provided by Land Matrix indicates that in 2013 the ten largest land purchasers in Africa were subjects or sovereign funds from the following countries: United Arab Emirates (1.9 million hectares), India (1.8 million hectares), United Kingdom (1.5 million hectares), United States (1.4 million hectares), South Africa (1.3 million hectares), Italy (0.6 million hectares), Germany (0.5 million hectares), Sudan (0.5 million hectares), Ethiopia (0.4 million hectares), Portugal (0.4 million hectares), while China only ranks 19th with 0.16 million hectares4.

Yet foreign investors are not the only ones to make such land purchases. According to socio-anthropologist Philippe Lavigne Delville, “in some countries, the field surveys concerning the major purchases have highlighted a surge of land acquisitions by national agribusinesses, transactions whose size often exceeds international acquisitions”5.

While these nations generally have significant needs for foreign capital to achieve economic development, a close watch is essential when land investments are only driven by short-term speculative factors, or are undermining the food security of local communities by revoking their use of land.

In view of the extent of the trend, an increasing number of the concerned local stakeholders are currently joining forces. According to a 2015 study conducted by the Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN)6, a network of nine national coalitions established in nine Western African countries, over 2.31 million hectares were purchased between 2000 and 2012 in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, amounting to 1.5 percent of available arable land.

At the 2012 meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), “Voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests” were formally determined to address the issues of land grabbing. Today, the prospect of seeing local stakeholders taking a part in the design of a true farmland governance system is more possible than ever before.

1 Excerpt from the interview with Olivier De Schutter for the publication Défis Sud by SOS Faim

2 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/fr/news-room/20160603IPR30208/Protéger-les-projets-internationaux-(...)
3 http://www.banquemondiale.org/fr/region/afr/publication/securing-africas-land-for-shared-prosperity
4 http://www.landmatrix.org/en/
5 The issue of farmland markets in Western Africa and their regulation, June 2016

6 http://terres-copagen.inadesfo.net/Publication-Touche-pas-a-ma-terre

Page Header
Paris, 16 June 2019