“We, the poor.” This is how Francisco Chicompa introduces the peasant families who live in Napai II, a village in the district of Mecuburi, Nampula province in Mozambique. The label stuck like glue: poor is what they were called, and so poor is what they were. Despite this, the land in the region has provided food for him, his wife and his eleven children. The land has provided money to buy clothes and sent the children to school. The land has held memories of his ancestors, which he was of course obliged to pass on, intact, to future generations.
By Ian Scoones, Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, and the Director of the ESRC STEPS Centre at Sussex
The expansion of sugar production in southern Africa has been dramatic. From its early beginnings in Natal to the huge commercial estates across the region established during the colonial era, new investments are being planned. The land rush in southern Africa is often a sugar rush, with the ‘white gold’ promising riches to governments, local elites and large corporates alike.
Despite certain progress in recent years a large proportion of the world’s rural population, especially in low and middle-income countries, still does not have statutory recognized rights to the agricultural land and other natural resources they have been using for generations and on which they depend for their livelihoods. They are, therefore, vulnerable to today’s escalating demand for land for large-scale commercial investments as well as to other external claims on their landed resources.