Large-scale land acquisitions and Southern Africa’s broad agrarian change


The 2007-2008 food price crisis triggered a new rush for land worldwide. Southern Africa is one of the most affected regions with large-scale land investments for agricultural purposes reliably covering an area at least as big as Malawi (see Policy Brief 1). Potential consequences – whether positive as negative - are well described, both direct consequences (e.g. transfer of knowledge, increased productivity as well as loss of land, loss of livelihoods, etc.) and indirect implications (e.g. food security issues, environmental aspects, etc.) (Anseeuw et al., 2012). However, while attention is often solely focusing on determinants and implications related to the large-scale land acquisition phenomenon, the acquisition part represents only the tip of the iceberg in terms of wider land-related and agrarian dynamics. Although less visible than the direct large-scale land acquisitions, these new models are developing rapidly and are illustrative of far-reaching and profound agrarian transformations, with significant consequences for farmers and traditional land owners and users. In order to better understand these restructurings, this brief aims at recontextualizing the observed trends of large scale land investments in the region by looking at/analyzing implications both in terms of transformation of the agriculture sector and social consequences on the agrarian society.


Ward ANSEEUW and Mathieu BOCHE