Notes to broadcasters on local land tenure issues:

    | May 24, 2010

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    Land tenure and access to good quality land are key issues for small-scale farmers. Many countries have complicated and unclear laws regarding sale and purchase of land. This is especially true where families have inhabited land for centuries but have no paperwork to prove ownership. Yet in this story we hear about farmers willingly selling their land.

    When land is divided up through inheritance, children and spouses are often left with small pieces of land. Often their lands are dispersed over a wide area. Those who inherit this land may prefer to sell the land and start again in urban areas. This is especially true when their land is in marginal areas, and has poor soils. Land sales provide cash on hand to pay for school fees, as in this story. This is part of the growing trend in some regions for farmers and rural dwellers to move to urban areas and seek alternative livelihoods. More people now live in cities than ever before. It is estimated that half of the world’s population now live in cities. And one billion live in slums.

    Figures such as these have stimulated policy makers and campaign groups to try to change negative attitudes to farming and rural life. They conduct activities to encourage youth to remain in rural areas, and show how, in some regions, farming is a viable and promising way to earn a living. These efforts are part of a growing environmental awareness, which considers where our food comes from and is interested in all things “green.”

    As a follow-up to this story you may want to look at urbanization in your country, or examine the issues surrounding land tenure. Issues to explore include:
    -Are urban populations growing? Is there any evidence of farmers returning to land? What are the causes?
    -Is it easy to purchase agricultural land? Does formal law take customary practices (such as inheritance) into account?
    -Do laws apply equally to men and women? To what extent are women allowed to own land outright?
    -Are people aware of “green issues” in your country? Is this more common in urban areas? What do farmers think of this? How does this affect them, if at all?

    Farm Radio Weekly published a series last year on international land grabbing and investment. Issue 69 was the first in the series. It is a good place to start for more background on international land issues:

    Earlier this year we also looked at women’s land rights. Here are the Notes to Broadcasters for that topic from March 2010:

    And here is a Farm Radio International script that looks at women’s land rights: