Por Vijay Prashad*
How do we make land-based agricultural investments more inclusive, particularly regarding land rights? This was the focus of the agenda as LEGEND held the 6th UK Land Policy Forum on July 11 2018, with lively discussions from all involved – including government, DFIs, academics and land-related CSOs.
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.
The distribution of land in Malawi is highly unequal and frequently inefficient. Large areas of land are underutilised in a context where many Malawian farmers would be able to put such land to productive use. In this context, the Malawian government has been slow and ineffective in undertaking land reforms, despite large demand for change both from investors and the local population.
Our sugar is made from sugarcane. And sugarcane is not planted in trees or in the air, it’s planted in the ground, in the soil, on land. It’s the bedrock of our investment.
—Illovo Land Champion
In recent years, numerous companies have made commitments to better recognize and respect land rights throughout their supply chains. Although making such commitments is a critical first step towards achieving more responsible investments, many companies still struggle with how to practically implement those commitments.