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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Land grabs put farmers at risk across Africa

The international farmers’ organization La Via Campesina has designated April 17 as the International Day of Peasant Struggle. The day aims to raise awareness of the rights of small-scale farmers around the world. A principal right is the right to land.

Three of this week’s four stories deal with “land grabs,” which are in many cases violations of farmers’ land rights. Our first story is from Burkina Faso and tells how land owned by small-scale farmers is being granted to influential “Sunday farmers.” The government gambled that encouraging investors to create large modern farms would help achieve food self-sufficiency. But few large land owners are even using their new land for farming, and smaller farmers are increasingly locked out of the land market.

Our second story comes from Liberia, where the government has signed a long-term land lease with a multinational mining company. The deal has resulted in thousands of local farmers being resettled. Earlier this year, the farmers escalated their protests at what they claim are unmet promises related to housing, access to water, local hiring, and other issues.

Our third and last “land grab” story comes from Tanzania. Criticisms of a long-term land lease between the Tanzanian government and an American firm have caused one of the key partners, Iowa State University, to back out of the deal. Critics have pointed to a lack of consultation with local people, and argued that the deal will not create local jobs, and will result in local farmers becoming sharecroppers or plantation workers at best.

Our last story comes from Congo-Brazzaville, where the government has introduced a policy to sell agricultural produce by weight, rather than by heap, cup or bowl. Farmers are happy with higher prices for their produce. But consumers must pay more, and traders are caught in the middle.

This week’s Action section highlights a Canadian children’s magazine’s adaptation of a Farm Radio International script for a younger audience. The magazine also includes a profile of Farm Radio International’s founder, George Atkins.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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