Written by Kayode Ogunbunmi | From Trust.org
Policymakers and media organizations are ignoring the fact that African middle class and local ruling elites are the biggest drivers of the transfer of land ownership on the continent over the last few years, rather than foreign investors, experts said.
The focus on large-scale overseas investors is distracting from the real story that mid-sized farmers are behind agricultural growth in Africa, and this has policy implications which are not being addressed.
“The foreign land grab is one issue but it pales in comparison to domestic investment in land,” said Thomas Jayne, a professor at Michigan State University. “There has not been much documentation of this trend until recently, but this incontrovertible data is coming in from the countries,” he said.
USAID studies conducted in Ghana, Zambia and Kenya showed that big farms are changing the landscape of land ownership in Africa. But they disproved the notion, often reported in news media, that foreign-owned large corporations are grabbing most of the productive lands in most African countries.
Experts at the World Bank conference on Land and Poverty, where the studies were discussed this week, said the majority of land guidelines fail to recognize the impact of mid-sized farms, and so governments may not be addressing the impact that farmers within this category have on land use
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