1. The global food crisis
2. Merits and demerits of land acquisition
3. Zambia: country profile
4. Issues around land acquisition in Zambia
1. The global food crisis:
Due to the effects of food price crisis of 2007-2008, there was growing concern among the nations about the food security. There was surge in demand for food products by the food importing countries and subsequently food-producing countries imposed some restrictions on the food exports of food grains.
In order to meet the growing demand of food and face increasing pressures on natural resources and water scarcity, the countries with land and water constraints needed an alternative means of producing food. Acquisition of farmland in the developing countries by these countries seeks to ensure food security. (More on the land acquisition drive)
These investments are not driven by the notion of comparative advantage in the large-scale production of indigenous crop (Mann and Smaller; 1; January 2010). The higher oil prices in 2007-2008 were another driver, which triggered interest of developed countries to acquire land for energy crops.
Global financial crisis also encouraged investors to invest in foreign lands. The value of both food and fertile land was set to increase, making them an attractive new investment.
Budgetary resources in developing countries may not be enough to meet infrastructural investment required to use the land to its potential. Some developing countries are seeking foreign investment to exploit their surplus land which is currently unused or under-utilized. This may lead to creation of jobs in rural areas and there may also be investment in health and education sector. Technology transfer by the investor countries may lead to increase in farm productivity. However these investments are not without trade offs.
There are concerns about the impact on local poor people, who lack access to and control over land on which they depend. There can be local unemployment because of projects with imported workforce and high degree of mechanization. It will also lead to increase in regional land prices through soaring competition with regard to acreage and resources, and thus less access of land to poor people. Foreign investors can also emerge as strong competitors to local producers, especially small households. There is also risk of land conflicts in territories without well defined land titles (Bicker and Breuer; 37; April 2009).
“In some cases, the land leases are justified on the basis that the land being acquired by the foreign investor is “unproductive” or “underutilized.” However, there may be that the land is being used by poor for purposes such as grazing animals and gathering fuel wood or medicinal plants. These uses tend to be undervalued in official assessments because they are not marketed, but they can provide valuable livelihood sources to the poor.”(Von Braun and Meinzen-Dick; 2; April 2009) Large-scale land acquisitions may further jeopardize the welfare of the poor by depriving them of the safety-net function of this type. There can be misappropriation of arable land, displacement of indigenous people without compensation and migration to cities. So it is crucial to ensure that these land deals, and the environment within which they take place, are designed in a ways that will reduce the threats and facilitate the “win-win” situation for all the parties involved.
According to Sustainable development innovation briefs (January 2010), “There are three sources of law governing foreign investment in agricultural land. 1) Domestic law
2) International investment contract
3) International investment agreements (IIAs)
According to Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives of Republic of Zambia, Zambia has the best surface and underground water resources in Africa, with many rivers, lakes and dams. Sharing borders with eight countries, Zambia is centrally situated...