Introduction and background presentation - COMMERCIALISATION OF by gyvwpsjkko



                            Ruth Hall
   Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)
                 University of the Western Cape

       PLAAS Regional Workshop, 24-25 March 2010
• ‘Land grabbing’ or the ‘farms race’ in Africa (and elsewhere)
  described as a new neo-colonial push by foreign companies
  and government to annexe key natural resources.
    – IFPRI estimated that 15-20 million hectares in developing
      countries changed hands between 2006 and 2009
    – Concessions to large areas, often as part of wider agreements
      for investment in infrastructure, provision of services, job
      creation, etc – in return for ‘development’.
• ‘Triple crisis’ in global capitalism: food, fuel, finance.
    – A form of globalisation; also a response to the insecurity
      generated by globalised agro-food, fuel and financial systems.
• Critics charge that “rich countries are buying poor countries’
  soil fertility, water and sun to ship food and fuel back home,
  in a kind of neo-colonial dynamic” (IPS 2009).
• Counter-argument that investment is sorely needed, and the
  challenge is to regulate and channel it; how to get the new
  momentum of investment to work for development.
               Existing studies
   – Details of 120 major agro-investment firms getting land
     allocations, &
• IFPRI: International Food Policy Research Institute
   – Global estimates from monitoring media reports
• IIED: International Institute for Environment &
  Development (with FAO and IFAD)
   – Quantitative inventory of land allocations in Ethiopia,
     Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, plus analysis of contracts
• ILC: International Land Coalition
   – Global study on commercial pressures on land, & blog
• World Bank
   – 30 country study – to be reported at April 2010
                Southern Africa
• Clearly huge differences in conditions and patterns – but
  also commonalities, sufficient to justify a regional
• The leasing or sale of public / communal land to foreign,
  regional and domestic companies
   – for food production,
   – for tourism developments,
   – for biofuel production,
   – for mining, and
   – for other commercial uses.
• Prime among these are China, South Korea, India
   – But also European corporations, investment firms, banks,
     state-owned enterprises and funds.
• SA now also setting targets for renewable fuel content;
  set to become a bigger player regionally.
             Global responses
• Competition to define the terms of the debate
   – ‘land grabbing’ = activist terminology that has gone
• Debate over appropriate international framework:
   – code of conduct, FAO voluntary guidelines, AU
     guidelines for land policy, World Bank ‘principles’, G8
     ‘non-binding principles’
   – Land policies going global...
• Borras & Franco (forthcoming) distinguish two
   – ‘Securing land rights’ through ‘good governance’:
     emphasis on procedural guarantees and efficient
     administration, versus
   – ‘Food sovereignty’ and ‘land sovereignty’: questioning
     not only processes through which land uses and rights
     are transformed, but the direction of change – which
     is counter (land/agrarian) reform.
‘Commercialisation’ vs ‘grabbing’
• There are multiple pressures towards commercialisation of land
  in Southern Africa
   – ‘Grabbing’ draws attention to impacts on local communities and the
     potential for dispossession
   – But deflects attention from domestic policies and politics
   – Dispossession of local land users = most extreme outcome, but not only
• ‘Land rights’ paradigm limited?
   – Land reforms in the region from 1990s focused on establishing new land
     laws, land administration systems, decentralisation
   – How adequate are these systems to defend against dispossession and
     provide locals with leverage to negotiate preferable terms?
   – Conceptual and strategic reasons to frame the issue as
     ‘commercialisation of land’ (land uses and land rights)
• Does it make sense to think of a continuum of possible
  situations? Ranging on a spectrum from:
   –   outright dispossession: physical and economic exclusion
   –   to incorporation on adverse terms
   –   to incorporation on more preferable terms
   –   to types of agro-investments that are more informed by local needs and interests
Conceptual & analytical questions
 • How much are these trends new or the continuation
   of existing practices
    – How much quantitative vs qualitative shift?
 • Agrarian change and regional politics:
    – What structural changes are emerging and what does this
      mean for rural poverty and food security?
 • Outcomes and impacts:
    – Class formation, gender in/equality, and other dimensions
      of social differentiation (beyond ‘local community’)?
 • Implications for governance:
    – Not only governance of land rights, but privatisation of
      public functions, eg infrastructure and social services?
      What does this mean for the state, for power, elites and
 • Implications for a ‘land rights’ approach:
    – More urgency to implement and enforce existing laws and
      policies, or new strategies needed? Alternative agenda?
            PLAAS’s agenda
• A regional research programme: a regional
  response to a regional dynamic
  – Partnerships across countries
  – Looking at intra-regional dynamics as well (eg.
    role of SA capital and SA farmers)
• Wider networking in the region
  – Also wider network of civil society organisations,
    researchers, small farmer associations, and
  – Advocacy within the region? As well as beyond?
• Global networks?
  – Land Deal Politics Initiative
  – Future Agricultures Consortium
  Objectives for this workshop
1. To share available information about the
   character and scale of land deals and the
   ‘commercialisation of land’ in the region, and
   their impacts
2. To analyse and debate the implications for
   land rights and food security in the region, and
   the possibilities for promoting more pro-poor
3. To develop an agenda for research and action,
   to provide platforms for the voices of local
   people, to address information gaps, support
   analysis and theorisation, and inform advocacy.

• Day 1: Developing a shared understanding

• Day 2: Charting an agenda for research
  and action
Thank you

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