Date Posted: May 21st, 2012
African farmers would feel more secure if they knew that the land they live and work on could not be taken away from them. Yet this is still a dream for many. Farmers without land title face many forms of insecurity. Many farmers are reluctant to invest time and effort on improving their farm, particularly with long-term projects such as tree-planting or measures to control soil erosion. Many commentators believe that secure access to land is the biggest challenge faced by Africa’s small-scale farmers. Last week, a UN committee endorsed voluntary guidelines on land investment (see this week’s story). Many international organizations welcome the guidelines as a step in the right direction.
Here are some websites where you can find more information on the extent of land acquisitions in Africa:
And here are two related stories from Malawi:
Green Belt Initiative taking shape http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/10183
This recent story from Malawi also mentions the negative effects of the sugar plantation on local communities: Malawi: Hunger deepens in the South http://www.irinnews.org/Report/95276/MALAWI-Hunger-deepens-in-the-south
Here is a previous story written for Farm Radio Weekly from the same area:
Malawi: Villagers lose land to sugar plantation (June 2009, FRW 70)http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/06/15/1-malawi-villagers-lose-land-to-sugar-plantation-by-gladson-makowa-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-malawi/
A few weeks ago, Farm Radio Weekly published a special issue on land deals, which you can revisit here:http://weekly.farmradio.org/topic/issue-197/. The accompanying Notes to Broadcasters provide many links for further information: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/04/16/notes-to-broadcasters-on-land-2/.
And in 2009, Farm Radio Weekly published a series on international land grabbing and investment. Issue 69 was the first in the series: http://weekly.farmradio.org/topic/frw-issues/issue-69/.
Has the “land investment” issue reached your country or broadcast area? If so, it is a topic that is of great importance to farmers. Though governments and large investors are often reluctant to talk, you could examine land ownership issues. Research the following questions: Are there any laws which govern land ownership or inheritance? Do these contradict or are they different from traditional rules? How do the two systems interact? How do both systems affect women? Is it common for farmers in your area to own land, or are they more often tenants? How does this affect their daily lives and the decisions they make? Try to get a variety of views and quotes from men and women farmers, government officials and local advocacy organizations.