07/10/2011 - Participants at a two-day High-Level Forum on Foreign Direct Investments in Land in Africa resolved to promote land-based investment models that increase agricultural productivity and maximize opportunities for Africa’s farmers.
The traditional leaders, government representatives, private sector and civil society actors at the forum stressed that the majority of Africans derive their livelihoods from agriculture, including pastoralism, and that women comprise the majority of smallholder farmers.
The outcome - dubbed the Nairobi Action Plan - emphasizes the need to minimize the negative impacts of large-scale land acquisitions.
The forum came in the wake of what former Botswanan president, Festus Mogae, referred to as “dramatic trends in large acquisitions of land by multinationals for agricultural purposes as they seek to assure food security for industrialized nations.” In many circles, this trend is equivalent to land-grabbing.
The Kenyan Minister for Lands, Mr. James Orengo, told the forum that Africa’s exports to the world market had declined remarkably in the last 10 years, mainly due to protectionist policies adopted by the industrialized countries.
“This is the crux of the scramble for Africa’s arable land, as it is now apparently clear, that industrialized countries are willing to receive agricultural exports from Africa, only when such products are produced by their own multinationals.”
Minister Orengo said that, in Kenya, excessive fragmentation of land and encroachment into marginal areas had resulted in low productivity and severe land degradation. This, he added: “has culminated in high competition for the dwindling resources and eruption of violent conflicts.”
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