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Jabik, B.B. (2021). Relevant Local Climatic Knowledge for Sustainable Agro-Ecological Practices by Small-Scale Farmers in Northern Ghana

Local knowledge on climatic conditions which hitherto was used to predict the likelihood of weather outcomes is under threat of extinction due to lack of documentation coupled with a gradual decline in its knowledge transfer. Using participatory and ethnographic research approaches including focus groups discussion, key informant interviews, in-depth interviews, and purposively selecting small-scale farmers in the Upper East Region of Ghana, this study has identified key local climatic knowledge that would contribute to achieving sustainable agro-ecological practices. The study found that plant phenology like the sprouting of Faidherbia albida and the presence of Ficus carica are relevant for sustainable agro-ecological practices of small-scale farmers. Also, the frequency or otherwise of rains and the appearance of the water of the first rain at the onset of the rainy season presupposes the likelihood of the rainfall pattern in that year. Also, some animal and bird behaviour such as the movement of migratory birds, which was used to predict the likelihood of weather patterns or seasons, has been adversely affected by the changing climatic conditions. This knowledge is very relevant for agro-ecological practices since it enables farmers to plan ahead of seasons, which contributes to improving the adaptive capacity of small-scale farmers.


Chipenda, C. (2021). Experiences, Opportunities and Challenges of the ‘New Generation’ in Post-Land Reform Zimbabwe

What have been the experiences, opportunities and challenges of social reproduction and accumulation by the second generation (or children) of resettled farmers in Zimbabwe’s ‘new’ farming areas? This is the central research interest of the paper which explores the current situation of the ‘new’ generation in the farming areas created under the fast-track land reform programme (FTLRP). Based on a critical, nuanced and empirically grounded analysis of the life histories of young smallholder farmers, the paper interrogates their experiences, challenges and future prospects as principal landowners in the country’s reconfigured agrarian structure. The paper is informed by field-based evidence gathered in Goromonzi District (Zimbabwe) and it employs an interpretive research paradigm and a qualitative research approach which it uses to interrogate the situation of young farmers. It shows that to some extent, redistributive land reform has had discernible production, redistribution and social reproduction outcomes which are positively impacting on the lives of the new generation. The central evidence supported position of the paper is that there is the generational transfer of land which has allowed for the continued opening up of the previously enclosed means of production. Young people with access to land are now able to engage in diverse land-based livelihood activities which are slowly transforming their lives, allowing them to accumulate productive and non-productive assets while ensuring food security. In a context where the FTLRP has for years been subjected to much polemical and antagonistic debate, the paper shows that from a youth and land nexus, there are important lessons that can be learnt from it especially for countries in the global south confronted by the ‘youth question.’


Phiri, D. (2021). A Legal Analysis of Disjunctions Between Statutory and Customary Land Tenure Regimes in Zambia

In the recent past, Zambia has experienced land governance-related issues such as voluntary and involuntary displacements, insecurity of tenure, food insecurity and land disputes. While laudable efforts have been made to uphold and realise land and resource rights of poor rural populations in Zambia, there are numerous longstanding challenges that remain unresolved. The majority of the rural population still do not enjoy sufficient legal protection of their land rights. This article shows the inadequate legal recognition of the strength of rights to land and natural resources derived from custom and how to recognise and secure land rights of holders in law and in practice. It also examines the degree to which vested property rights are protected from infringements, and analyses land rights in the context of ownership, possession and holder-ship. Furthermore, the relations between statutory and customary land tenure systems are assessed from the perspective of legal pluralism. Therefore, this article increases understanding on the diversity of land tenure regimes that exist, as well as what constitutes the legal status of land and ways in which they provide for vestment of property rights.

Zambia officially recognises both customary and statutory systems of law. A large proportion of legislation in Zambia is derived from the British legal system, which comprises of common law and doctrines of equity which were in force in Britain on 17th August 1911. The Zambian Constitution is the supreme law of the land and all pieces of legislation, common law and doctrines of equity must be consistent with the provisions embedded in it. While statutory law is codified in acts of parliament, customary law is not defined or codified. Key elements of ‘customary’ law demonstrate both a strong colonial influence and continuity in this respect since independence in 1964. However, just like statutory law, it is also expected to be consistent with the provisions of the Constitution in its application. The Zambian legal framework thus consists of an array of customary and statutory laws administered through the legislative, judicial and executive spheres of government. The statutes are derived from the British legal system introduced during colonisation and are still in full force and effective within Zambia.


Serwajja, E. (2021). Victims of their Bodies: Capitalism and Exploitation of Women’s Labour on Floricultural Farms in Uganda

This paper examines the intricacies in the employment of women on floricultural farms in Uganda. Globally, floricultural farms employ predominantly women. However, women workers on the flower farms appear to be ‘victims of their bodies’ in that the socio-cultural construction of their bodies as feminine, informs the tasks they are allocated, their working conditions and remuneration. The key arguments advanced based on findings from JP Cuttings reveal that capitalism exploits women’s labour by riding on the back of social and cultural construction of their bodies: flexible, delicate, meticulous and neat. These qualities are required to handle flowers that are delicate in nature and this makes women fit for labour-intensive but less-rewarding ‘feminine’ tasks. While some departments at JP Cuttings, such as harvesters, where the embedded tasks were categorised as ‘light’ and required an eye for detail, appeared to be reserved for women, other departments, for example, maintenance, construction and repair were dominated by men because the underlying roles and responsibilities seem to rhyme with the masculine cultural description. There was not a single woman in the maintenance, construction and repair department. Similarly, not a single man was involved in the harvesting of flowers. Although socio-cultural dynamics lie on the periphery of capitalism, they are either directly or indirectly intertwined in the wider capitalistic economy. Overall, women flower farm workers were assigned work, not based on their individual abilities, but on the dictates of society and culture, particularly the ways in which the ‘feminine’ bodies are constructed.


Adomaa, F.O. (2021). Tenure Security and Incomes for Cocoa Farmers: A Political Economy Inquiry of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Viral Disease Eradication Programme in Ghana

Agrarian political economy is a critical area of inquiry in agrarian studies. Plant disease outbreaks and associated eradication efforts or the lack thereof, mediate local political economies with implications for smallholder livelihoods. This paper offers a political economy inquiry of a plant disease eradication programme. The paper is situated within the cocoa swollen shoot viral disease (CSSVD) eradication programme in Ghana and examines how CSSVD eradication fosters changing land relations in Ghana’s Sefwi cocoa landscape and how this disrupts tenure security and crop incomes for smallholders. Results from the study reveal that an alliance between the government and chiefs in the eradication programme provided an avenue to invoke and institutionalise latent customary tenure norms that changed host-stranger land relations and had consequences for smallholders’ willingness and ability to replant their CSSVD-infested farms by themselves. This had attendant consequences for income from cocoa. This paper offers insights on the interests, powers and alliances forged in the plant disease eradication programme and how they (re)construct social relations amid land commercialisation and deepening social differentiation.

Access to land and income from crop production are important livelihood assets in agrarian societies. Due to their importance, agrarian scholars raise critical questions when agrarian change or reform exhibit the potential to disrupt them. The disruption to land access and crop income in instances of plant disease epidemics is pronounced and has potential consequences for national and local political scenarios, as well as for economic landscapes. Zadoks’ (2017) work on the political economy of plant diseases highlights that the potential outbreak of plant diseases could result in unrest due to deeper socio-economic causes. While Zadoks (2017) highlights that the absence of national and international intervention results in dire political economic consequences regarding the outbreak of diseases discussed in his work, the presence of such interventions also has the potential to (re)construct local and global political economies, as evidenced in the work of De la Cruz (2017) and De la Cruz and Jansen (2018) on Panama disease in banana plants.


Massay, G.E. (2021). Redistribution of State Farmlands in Tanzania: Why and in Whose Interests?

Large farmland repossession by the state takes place in leaps and bounds in Tanzania. These are mostly those farmlands that have remained undeveloped for many years. The state has identified purposes for which the farmland redistribution will be used, namely, for community use; investment and industrialisation; and for land banks. Using a case study of Mvumi Village in Kilosa District in Morogoro Region where five farmlands were repossessed and redistributed, this paper seeks to investigate the extent to which the narratives for redistribution promoted by the state, manifest on the ground. The findings are mixed and contribute to the understanding of land reform in Tanzania.

There have been longstanding state interventions in land reform in Tanzania. In the 1960s and 1970s, the state drove land-concentration programmes through villagisation and exclusions by opening up wildlife conservation areas for tourism (Maghimbi et al., 2010; Rosset et al., 2006). During the same period, there was massive nationalisation of private companies, farms and projects of national economic value through the implementation of the 1967 Arusha Declaration, a socialist and self-reliance policy. Nationalised farms were placed under the administration of the National Agriculture and Food Corporation (NAFCO) and the National Ranching Company Ltd (NARCO). With the introduction of neo-liberal policies, the state reformed its policies to embrace a market economy and privatised most of the farms in the 1990s (Manji, 2006; Shivji, 1998; Tsikata, 2003).


Busingye, J.D. (2021). Resilience of Subsistence Farming Systems to Food Insecurity in Uganda

More than 80% of the Ugandan population are subsistence farmers inhabiting the rural areas, producing food to feed both their families and the communities around them, even though they face numerous social, economic, ecological, climatic, environmental, and other related challenges. In the context of modernisation and mechanisation, where the most prominent narrative is that food production can only be increased by monocultural large-scale farms, subsistence farmers feeding their households are rendered irrelevant in policy debates and government interventions. While subsistence farming systems are regarded as failed ventures, mostly in need of rescue, farmers’ families continue to depend on these farms for all their needs. What stands out in practice, is the question of how the subsistence farmers survive, in such cruel policy regimes, to feed their families, and to ensure food security for their households. The stresses and shocks faced by such households are part of their daily routines, highly motivated by their need to survive, at the most basic level, by making sure that there is food to eat for the household members. However, there is minimal understanding of such circumstances and the conditions under which food makes it to the table in these households, or to the market.


Bruna, N. (2021). From a Threat to an Opportunity: Climate Change as the New Frontier of Accumulation

Amidst the intensification of the global environmental crisis, the new scramble for Africa has become ‘greener’ than ever. Investments, projects and policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change have become a top priority especially in biodiversity-rich countries such as Mozambique and with profound implications to rural livelihoods. This paper aims to understand, under a political economy and ecology lens, the implications to global processes of accumulation and rural livelihoods. It explores different variations in which climate change is used to facilitate capital accumulation either through legitimation of resource grabbing or by the creation of new spaces for accumulation by further commodifying nature. A closer examination of these processes shows that climate change, and the policies and schemes to address it, which were initially perceived as threats to accumulation, have been co-opted by global capital and integrated in the global processes of accumulation, with the aid of the state. Hence, a new frontier of accumulation arises, as climate change is further augmenting new forms of primitive accumulation (with and without land expropriation), creating new commodities and new opportunities for accumulation by expanded reproduction (legitimised by mitigation and adaptation policies).


Tchatchoua-Djomo, R. (2021). Shifting Land Tenure, Dispute Resolution, Rural Migration and Legal Pluralism in Cameroon

Rural-to-rural migration remains a phenomenon of great importance in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Africans have historically migrated in their quest for improved livelihoods and income-generating opportunities. Rural-to-rural migration is transformative and likely to result in ethnic heterogeneity and land competition among smallholder farmers, which in turn can trigger ethnic conflict over land. In Cameroon, migrant smallholder farmers seeking available fertile land, sustainable livelihoods and a way out of chiefly controlled land tenure have embraced commercial crops – cocoa, coffee, tomatoes, maize, cocoyam – for the domestic and regional markets. This study presents field research data on the impacts of rural-to-rural migration in a smallholder commercial farming locality, and the extent to which they influence ethnic relations and local land tenure. This paper outlines evidence which suggests that in situations of in-migration, institutional pluralism plays an important role in shifting ethnic and property relations and in competition on land. This paper argues that it is important to acknowledge the intricacies of institutional, demographic, social and economic factors in determining agrarian change. As migrants and people with competing land claims turn to state and non-state actors, community representatives, and relatives to access land and to mediate disputes or support their claims, struggles over land mingle with relations of authority, ethnic identity and debates over belonging. This paper draws attention to the dynamic character of in-migration, social differentiation and the contests that result over property and authority, as well as the salience of analysing them as ongoing and contingent historical processes.


Uwayezu, E., and Bayisenge, F. (2021). Trends of Land Tenure Security from Rules and Processes of Urban Development: A Probe in the Fringes of Kigali City, Rwanda

This study explores the tenure security metric in the current zoning regulations that involve the conversion of the large tracts of agricultural land into residential use in Kigali city outskirts. These changes follow the passage of Kigali city master plans which extend the urbanised area towards the urban outskirts which are characterised by subsistence agriculture. The study assesses the impacts of these changes on landowners’ property rights. The emphasis was put on tenure security, a question that is not fully documented in the current literature on land management in Rwanda after 15 years of land reform. Data collection methods included household surveys, interviews with stakeholders, field observations in urban fringes under spatial transformations and the review of legal documents and master plans regulating Kigali city development. The findings unfold limited trends of land tenure security connected with prohibitive housing development standards which are proposed in the local development plans. Generally, these standards trigger the displacement of an overwhelming number of existing landowners from their properties. These people enjoy neither the de jure (legal) tenure security granted by the recent formal registration of land rights nor the de facto (actual), or the perceived tenure security that should emerge from their integration in the urban development processes. Only a small number of landowners whose livelihoods do not depend on agricultural activities and whose incomes are relatively high can comply with those standards and enjoy security of tenure. Their tenure security is also connected with the variation in housing development standards. This study suggests some strategies which are grounded on pragmatic and collaborative tenure responsive land use planning and potential for enhancing the inclusion of poor and low-income landowners in the current Kigali city development processes. Those strategies would consist mainly of participatory design and implementation of mixed-use local development plans and incremental development of low-cost houses.