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Saturday 13 August 2011

Africa: Zambia to Host Land Policy Meeting

The forum to address underlying transnational commercial land deals in Africa comes at time when many Western Super powers are promoting and perpetuating improper land acquisition and use, hence agricultural challenges and food crisis facing the continent.

By George Okore

LUSAKA----A stakeholder dialogue on land policy issues in Africa will held in Lusaka, Zambia from October 4-5, 2011 in Lusaka, Zambia. 

The forum to address underlying transnational commercial land deals in Africa comes at time when many Western Super powers are promoting and perpetuating improper land acquisition and use, hence agricultural challenges and food crisis facing the continent. Former African colonial masters are land problems in many African countries including Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Somalia, Ethiopia among others.

 The High Level Forum on Land-Based Foreign Direct Investments in Africa comes at a time when recent discussions have focused on increasing demand of farmlands across the continent by both foreign and local investors. The meeting will explore and reach agreement and consensus on appropriate and concrete actions on how to address the issue of land based investments in the continent in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

The meeting will exchange experiences on Foreign Direct Investment in land (‘land grab’) in Africa and to propose specific interventions to expedite the implementation of the AU joint framework and guidelines on land policy.  The forum seeks African   position on land grab issue and prepares concrete recommendations to be submitted to African policy makers.

It will bring together expertise from the continent and beyond, including experts from government agencies, regional economic communities, civil society organizations, private sector and traditional chiefs. The meeting is organized by Land Policy Initiative (LPI) Consortium which comprises African Development Bank (AfDB), African Union Commission (AUC) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The conference is organized by The Journal of Peasant Studies in collaboration with Land Deals Politics Initiative (LDPI) under the new land theme of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC). It will discuss issues that unite or divide the rural poor, organized movements, and rural communities around the issue of land deals.

It will address urgent and strategic questions around global land grab, including land disparity in form class, gender and ethnicity. It will also explore how illegal land deals undermined food security at the local, national and international levels.

According to Professor Ian Scoones- a joint convener of the IDS-hosted Future Agricultures Consortium, the meeting will investigate howglobal land policies of different international development agencies encouraged or discouraged land deals. He says it will analyze land issues from various critical perspectives including agrarian political economy, sociology and ecology.

The workshop is also organized by Initiatives in Critical Development Studies (ICAS), Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrian Studies (PLAAS), Future Agricultures Consortium, The Resources, Environments and Livelihoods and Polson Institute of Global Development. Klaus Deininger, a senior economist at the World Bank will examine risks associated with single owners of large land holdings and the institutional reforms needed to make land deals successful.

Speakers include UN Rapporteur for the Right to Food and Professor of Law and Human Rights at the Catholic University of Louvain Olivier de Schutter who will present a paper on promotion of small family farms and human rights in the context of contemporary debates on land grabbing.  The Research Chair and Professor of Anthropology at the University of  Toronto, Canada Tania Murray Li, will examine how land deals can lead to dispossession and "rural exclusion”.

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