In spite of considerable oil revenues, Chad remains one of the world’s poorest countries, with 80% of its labor force in the agricultural sector. The country’s agricultural potential is underexploited. There are sufficient water resources to irrigate over 5 million hectares of land, weather droughts, and increase agricultural production substantially. With appropriate infrastructure and support, one-third of Chad’s land area could be used to grow crops. Instead, with a highly variable climate, frequent severe droughts and only 7000 hectares of irrigated farmland, agricultural productivity remains low.
Overgrazing, deforestation, inappropriate farming practices, and the pressure of increased numbers of people and livestock have caused substantial land degradation. Open access land-use practices threaten the sustainability of forests and pastureland. Clearance of natural vegetation as a short-term strategy for food production has led to rings of desertification and deforestation around population centers. Land-use conflicts between pastoralist and agricultural interests have intensified, adding to migration pressure and undermining social cohesion.
The legal framework and institutions governing Chad’s land and other natural resources are inadequate to manage the serious challenges described above. The country’s skeletal land legislation dates from 1967 and does not reach critical issues of land tenure, including the evolution of communal tenure to individualized rights, rights to pasture and range land, and the pressure of a growing population on limited arable land. Chad has no land policy and the government’s efforts to establish basic policy principles appear stalled.
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