Dealing with Land Dealings

A recent article from The East African highlights some of the problems facing “land deals” in African countries, especially in East Africa.

These are hard lessons I had the opportunity to learn early on, when I was starry eyed about the miraculously transformative powers of the private sector. One is doomed if one ignores the context and the *real* partners one has to keep happy in such a venture (i.e. the rural community, *not* the investors).

A few other points, re: the examples in the East Africa article:

  • *Rural communities in African countries do not have a lot of political power, but they have become organized enough that they can *disrupt* deals they don’t like.
  • There is a great sensitivity about using land to the exclusion of food or traditional cash crops (doesn’t mean one can’t invest in biofuels, but one has to have a prominent *food* investment first).
  • Communities reject any deal which requires them to vacate their land
  • For long term viability (and growth) of an agricultural investment, there has to be a way to involve and train the community: otherwise the investors and community will always be at odds

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