Large-scale land acquisitions

Large-scale land acquisitions and gender in Africa: The impact of institutional change and land investments on gender relations and food security

This research project aims to shed light on a notorious black box in the work on Large Scale Land Acquisitions (LSLA) and gender studies: it looks comparatively at gender relations and their changes under the new wave of LSLA, that follow after previous institutional changes in land tenure and access in Africa. The project includes cases of Northern (Morocco), Western (Ghana), Eastern (Tanzania) and Central Africa (Rwanda).

Funding

SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation)

Duration

October 2014 - September 2017

Involved researchers

  • Jean-David Gerber, University of Bern
  • Tobias Haller, University of Bern (Institute of Social Anthropology)
  • Sonja Merten, University of Basel (Swiss TPH)
  • Timothy Adams, University of Bern
  • Désirée Gmür, University of Bern (Institute of Social Anthropology)
  • Sarah Ryser, University of Bern (Institute of Social Anthropology)

The effects of large-scale land acquisitions on households in rural communities of the Global South

Bild von Ghana

This interdisciplinary project aims to analyze the  impacts of contract farming on the local food system and its constitutive components – i.e. food production, food processing, food distribution and food consuming – with a special focus on gender relations and related decision-making processes  concerning the food system and household food security.

With the recent wave of large-scale land acquisitions (so called 'land grabbing') in developing countries, the issue of contract farming has gaimed renewed interest on the international policy agenda. While by many it is seen as having the potential to create win-win scenarios for investors and farmers alike, there is still a lack of concrete evidence outlining the impacts of contract farming arrangements for local women and men.

This interdisciplinary project aims to analyze the impacts of contract farming on the local food system and its constitutive components (i.e. food production, food processing, food distribution and food consuming) with a special focus on gender relations and related decision-making processes concerning the food system and household food security. Taking into account gender issues, the research is grounded in strong evidence for womens's critical role in the livelihood of rural families. Many studies across different developing countries show that, while men often control access and use of land, women tend to be in charge of substistence-oriented food production, preparation and household food security. Within an institutional regime framework, we will assess the influence of contract farming on local actors' configurations, strategies and decision-making within the lcoal food system, as well as the capacity of women and men to impact on household food security.

For the purposes of this project we will compare cases of contract farming in Ghana and Peru. While both countries experience high levels of food insecurity in rural areas and both governments have a keen interest in attracting foreign agricultural investment, the general social, cultural and economic structure is very different in the two countries. This choice of very different institutional settings will help us to test the general validity of our hypothesis. In both countries, we will focus on two large-scale agricultural investments that at least partly work through local outgrowers. We will conduct expert interviews with investors and other key informants (i.e. local chiefs and politicians), semi-structured interviews with a large sample of contract farmers (both women and men) and carry out gender-segregated focus group disucssions in each case study.

The research findings will serve the ongoing policy debate within many international organizations and NGO's on how to best guarantee rural people's livelihoods and food security within the context of contract farming, adding a highly important gender perspective to their deliberations.

Funding

SNIS (Swiss Network for International Studies)

Duration

October 2013 - September 2015

Involved researchers

  • Jean-David Gerber, University of Bern
  • Stephane Rist, University of Bern (CDE)
  • Michèle Amacker, University of Bern (IZFG)
  • Peter Knoepfel, University of Lausanne (IDHEAP)
  • Kristina Lanz, University of Bern
  • Laura Tejada, University of Bern (CDE)