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Library Land reform, agriculture and poverty reduction

Land reform, agriculture and poverty reduction

Land reform, agriculture and poverty reduction

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Date of publication
December 2003
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Most land-based livelihoods rely on having secure access to land, a precondition for sustainable agriculture, economic growth and poverty reduction. This working paper examines the state of knowledge with regard to aspects of land reform- redistributive reform, land tenure reform, and the issue of land markets. It also addresses issues that remain unknown in areas of land and social equity, land administration, and land tax.Redistributive land reform aims to bring about an equitable distribution of land and the political power emanating from it. Past results have been less than impressive, and agrarian restructuring has been very slow.Tenure reform, has been plagued by a failure to appreciate the complex and highly contested nature of land issues in post-colonial states. The paper notes that land policy reform is unlikely to have significant poverty reducing effects unless attention is paid to institutional capacity building.Efficient transactions in land markets can encourage the transfer of land from less productive to more productive use, but excessive state regulation and bureaucracy are often the norm. Temporary transfers through land rental are an important redistribution mechanism. Rental markets- an important redistribution mechanism- have lower transaction costs and can help households deal with shocks or stresses without loss of productive assets.What don’t we still know about land reform? The following pertinent questions remain:what are the precise transmission mechanisms by which land reform contributes to poverty reduction?what are the synergies and/or trade-offs between greater equality in land ownership and increasing agricultural growth for poverty reduction?what kinds of land transfers can be carried out within land administration for improved growth and poverty outcomes in agriculture?how do current land administration arrangements prevent land transfers for positive growth and poverty reduction?what sorts of revised approaches to land administration are best, and how can they be designed and implemented?what forms of land and production taxes are most likely to encourage increases in agricultural productivity?how can land taxation systems be designed so they do not discourage investments by small-scale farmers, and under what circumstances is this appropriate?

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