Agricultural Development

Two-thirds of Africans depend mainly on agriculture for their food security, incomes and livelihoods, yet lack secure rights to their land. They farm small plots with minimal resources, and their farm productivity is far below what is possible.

But to grow more food and develop their farms as viable businesses, farmers need secure rights to their land and critical natural resources. Secure rights provide incentives for long-term investments in the sustainable use of natural resources, such as planting trees or terracing hillsides. They enable farmers to access bank loans and finance needed farm improvements.

As demand for land in Africa increases, smallholder farmers must have the power to resist efforts by local elites and foreign investors to take their land, or, at a minimum, to be fairly compensated if the government acquires their land for a legitimate public purpose. Documenting land rights can make them more secure.

Ultimately, secure land and natural resource rights translate into increased food-security, income, opportunity and respect for small-holder farmers.

Food Security and Land Rights

Addressing the challenge of food insecurity and undernutrition is a primary focus of governments and the international community.  However, programs and policies intended to improve food security often overlook the importance of secure land and natural resource rights to achieving that goal.   

Click here for a page of resources that provide an introduction to food security issues, describe the linkages between land rights, agricultural productivity and food security, provide data-based evidence of these links, and explain why improving women’s tenure security can have a disproportionately positive impact on household food security. 

Agricultural development briefs

Rise and Fall of Group Ranches in Kenya

Impact of Insecure Land Rights on Farmers in Burkina Faso

Threats to Secure Land Rights in Rural Liberia

Biofuels and Land Use in Tanzania

Land Tenure Security and its Contribution to Food Security in Burkina Faso

Impact Story: Pathways Mali - Advocating for Women's Land Access

Secure Land Rights: Food Security Depends On It

Curbs on Land Use Rights in Rwanda: The 'Bundle of Rights' in Context

Case Study: What Does Registration of Communal Land Mean to Namibians?