Published: 23 Jan 2014
The international year of family farming is now underway, and never before have family farmers in Africa been more under threat. Large land deals between African governments and usually foreign (and sometimes domestic) investors have seen swathes of the countryside leased or concessioned, often for as much as 50 to 99 years.
From Senegal in West Africa to Ethiopia in the Horn, and down to Mozambique in the South, land considered idle and available has changed hands, with profound implications for local people and the environment.
With estimates ranging from 56 to 227 million hectares globally (with 60-70% of this in Africa), what is clear is a rapid transformation of landholding and agricultural systems has taken place in the past five to 10 years.
Underpinning these deals is the longstanding failure of many African states to recognise, in law and practice, the customary land rights of existing farming households and communities, and the perpetuation of the colonial legal codes that centralise control over such lands in the hands of the state as trustee of all unregistered property…..
Guardian | 23 January 2014