The rush for agricultural land in Africa….. land grab or land acquisition…..

Many of the supposed contracts appear to be land grabs. Upon researching land deals in African countries, I have found that many of the contracts have leases of up to 100 years. Consequently, local communities who have farmed/used the land for generations are being removed from land, therefore their livelihood. Lenders expect longer durations for a lease to protect themselves from risk and uncertainty. The problem with this approach is that there appears to be little evidence of local people being consulted about the supposed ‘land acquisition’. Almost all land is allocated by central government – the government has the sole legal authority to sign off transactions. However, many of the deals appear to be shaped by the investor; foreign agricultural companies exercising their power. Research has documented investments starting without required environmental permits. Moreover, there’s little evidence of these land deals aiding the economy; there’s little detail about job numbers and benefits via taxation are limited by specific tax exemptions written into the contracts.

 Expensive, cumbersome procedures mean few rural communities hold ownership rights. Local people may have little or no recognition under national law. Therefore, much of what is happening in Africa aligns with Oxfam (2011) definition of land grab. The principle of free, prior, and informed consent of the affected land users is being flouted. Impacts on social, economic and the environment is being ignored. And there is no transparent contracts or meaningful democratic participation.

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