The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has said that tenure rights to land and other natural resources are fundamental to food and shelter, which are the key elements of social and cultural practices underpinning Tanzania’s economic growth.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam recently, FAO Tanzania’s National Land Officer, Beatha Fabian, pointed out that security of tenure on natural resources such as land, fisheries and forests was very key since food security of billions of people in the world depends on it.
“Agriculture very much depends on security of tenure of the natural resources. The sector is important, as it is the main source of food, employment and cash for many people. Here in Tanzania it contributes about twenty-five percent of Gross Domestic Product and thirty percent of export earnings while employing about sixty-seven percent of the labour force,” she said.
Based on the significant role that security of tenure plays in agriculture sector development, she explained, FAO’s partners and Member States including Tanzania, endorsed in 2012 the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT).
VGGT for Food Security
“The VGGT place secure access to land, fisheries and forest firmly in context of national food security. They seek to improve tenure governance with the overall goals on ensuring food security, poverty eradication, sustainable livelihoods, social stability, rural development and environmental protection,” Ms. Beatha added.
According to her, the VGGT provide guidance and information on internationally accepted principles and practices; contribute to the development of policy, legal and organizational frameworks; and enhance the transparency and functioning of tenure systems.
Besides, they strengthen capacities and operations of all persons concerned with tenure governance; and promote the cooperation between actors.
Hence, they serve as a framework that countries like Tanzania can use when developing their own strategies, policies, legislation, programme and activities.
The FAO Tanzania’s National Land Officer also disclosed that the UN Agency has translated the VGGT into Kiswahili with the aim of popularizing them to the larger Tanzanian public.
“This is a significant step in ensuring a common understanding and interpretation of a key global framework by a wider local audience. With its inclusive multi-actor and multi-sector approach, it is expected that in the rural communities, VGGT implementation will not only improve tenure governance but also make agriculture, forest and fisheries more productive and sustainable,” she concluded.
On his side, FAO Representative to Tanzania, Mr. Kafeero described the VGGT as a key for food security and for development in the country.
VGGT provide solution to conflicts over resources
“They are important to secure equitable access to natural resources. Now that we face a lot of challenges including land degradation, deforestation, declining fisheries resources, climate change and many more,” he said and cautioned: “All these issues present a fertile ground for conflicts over use or control of natural resources.”
According to him, without clearly defined rights of who uses, manages or controls the resources, the vulnerable become more prone to poverty and food insecurity.
Normally, the principle responsibility of improving governance of tenure lies with member states. However, all stakeholders can or may contribute to improving governance of tenure.
Under the VGGT, the member states; implementing agencies; judicial authorities; local governments; lawyers; organizations of commercial farmers and smallholder farmers, fishers, and forest users; pastoralists; civil society; private sector; academia; and communities are called upon to apply and use the guidelines.
The VGGTputemphasis on collaboration among stakeholders and for inclusive and participatory processes as a basis for all actions to improve governance of tenure. This includes, among others, the need for member states to set up or use existing multi-stakeholder platforms and frameworks to collaborate on the implementation of the VGGT.
The on-going collaboration of FAO with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development (MLHHSD) in supporting responsible governance of tenure has mainly focused on strengthening capacity of district and village level institutions in Morogoro region to address land-related conflicts; support the establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform for better inter- sectoral coordination and fostering responsible agricultural investments in Tanzania.
With the leadership of MLHHSD in engaging with partners to effectively implement the VGGT, there is no doubt this will contribute significantly to making agriculture, forest and fisheries more productive and sustainable.