News Land Grabbing – November 2014


African Union adopts Guiding Principles for Large Scale Land Based Investments (LSLBI)

The Guiding Principles for Large Scale Land Based Investments (LSLBI) were adopted by the African Union beginning November and aim to improve governance of large scale land based investments in a way that the investments are economically and socially beneficial to the people of Africa. The Guiding principles provide a framework for governments to establish land policies that take account of the strategic value of land and the efficient use of land and its resources in Africa’s efforts for inclusive development. The Guiding Principles include many crucial elements related to the human rights of communities: free and prior informed consent, the land investments should respect the customary land rights of communities, fair compensation for the loss of land, and, gender equality and land rights of women should be respected. Furthermore, the Guiding principles foresee in independent assessment of the economic, financial, social and environmental costs and benefits associated to the LSLBI as to ensure that the investment benefits the national economy of the host country and that it improves the livelihoods of local communities. Also, the way the land deals are concluded is considered by the AU Guiding principles; decisions on land deals and their implementation should be based on principles of good governance such as transparency, subsidiarity, inclusiveness, prior informed participation, and social acceptance by affected communities. In addition, the crucial role of family farmers in achieving food security, poverty reduction and economic growth is recognized. In conclusion, AU Guiding Principles show strong resemblance to the FAO Guidelines on the responsible tenure of land, so an international consensus on best practices related to land deals has emerged. However, the main challenge will remain the implementation of these principles. Read here the text of the Guiding principles  and the press release of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa regarding the Guiding principles.



What is inclusive agricultural growth? Agricultural investment, productivity and land rights in the context of large-scale investments.


In the light of the Land Policy Conference organised by the Land Policy Initiative in Addis Ababa, Ruth Hall gave a comprehensive analysis of what is at stake in the current debate regarding large scale land investments and land rights in Africa. First of all, Mrs Hall welcomes the adoption of the AU Guiding Principles, now the challenge of operationalization these Guidelines needs to be given due attention. The Guidelines constitute the basis for best practices; however accurate indicators are needed to ensure effective operationalization and monitoring. For instance, to ensure that LSLBI benefit local communities (and economies), it is crucial that these communities are involved via participatory processes from the beginning. Therefore the development of indicators that determine exactly the content of the principle “free, prior ad informed consent” are indispensable. Mrs Hall also points to the crucial role of agriculture in African economies; farming should become a viable and attractive economic activity allowing, in particular, young people and women to ensure livelihoods. These groups often have limited or no access to land and inputs. Here public policy could take away obstacles to access to land and inputs for these groups and provide infrastructure and services (agricultural formation and research). Agriculture should also go beyond production and allow farmers to create added value to their produce. In this respect, education can play a role in providing knowledge on value chains and entrepreneurial opportunities in agriculture. If women and young people are not included in agriculture, then agricultural growth can not be inclusive. Mrs Hall also argues that Africa can achieve inclusive agricultural growth without transferring land rights to people with capital; rather governments should invest in farmers. Therefore, inclusive agricultural growth should aim at increasing the number of livelihoods farming, the food system and the agricultural value chains can sustain. Instead, of promoting corporate takeover of the farming and food systems, and the agricultural value chains, existing farmers, traders retailers should be supported to scale up their activities. Read the full analysis here            



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