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Land Governance for Food Security

Access to land and security of tenure are necessary for people to raise and stabilize their incomes. They are essential prerequisites for diverse land based livelihoods, sustainable agriculture, economic growth, poverty elimination, for achieving power in markets, managing natural resources sustainably and preserving a peoples’ culture.

Land is also a major support not just to agricultural production, but also to the processing and the marketing of these products. Apart from the statutory systems, different parts of the world have traditional systems for land management and administration. These systems and principles are not always homogenous, and they can be either conducive or prejudicial to effective land management. A number of improvements in the land sector will be necessary to ensure that agriculture plays a central role in development.

The variety of agricultural forms and participants in the sector requires that the land tenure systems under which land is held and used are clarified. This is crucial not only for rural farmers, whose access to land is based on a variety of indigenous tenure systems, but also for commercial investors, whether men or women, some of whom seek to engage in large-scale operations (including extensive irrigation networks). The ability to secure access to land resources through a variety of tenure systems that guarantee returns for short- or long-term investments is important if productivity in agriculture is to improve. In addition, securing property rights in agriculture has the potential to add to government revenues through taxation and increased agricultural exports.

Tenure initiatives that support gender equality and equity can serve to increase women’s power in agricultural production as well as in social and political relationships. Further contextual dimensions are the relevance of women’s access to land and natural resources in ameliorating agricultural performance, the overall achievement of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and the links between land and labour.

In order to empower women and increase their contribution to agricultural development through enterprise or firm level interventions using the value chain approach, there is a need for context-specific approaches. This is important given that the interplay between the gender disparities and economic empowerment, and hence expected interventions are governed by context-specific factors at three levels: household level (e.g. individual’s characteristics, resource endowment and household relations); society/regional level (e.g. infrastructural development and the socio-cultural norms); and country level (the prevailing legal and institutional frameworks).