The Violence of Development: the Agricultural Agenda as a Vector in Land Conflicts

Par Joanny Bélair
Bulletin du Centre FrancoPaix en résolution des conflits et missions de paix | Vol. 5 no 4

  • As a symbol of the increased financialization of land and agriculture, the phenomenon of land grabs is having lasting consequences on farming communities in developing countries.
  • The dominant discourse of the World Bank, donors, investors and African governments is part of a narrow vision of modernization. It is predicated on the idea that African farmers are not productive, and that the Western model of productivist agriculture constitutes the panacea.
  • This agenda, which puts forward productivist commercial agriculture, goes hand in hand with a second international development agenda associated with the formalization of land tenure.
  • The growing global financial interest in African land seems to lead almost systematically to the transfer of the most sought-after arable lands into the hands of the state, or domestic and foreign investors.
  • The premise that these investors are more productive is unconvincing, and few actions are carried out to ensure sustainable use of resources.
  • Job creation appears to be a short-term effect, but produces limited economic spillovers.
  • The implementation of these agendas ignores the fact that the processes of land allocation and acquisition are inherently political, and generate consequences that are potentially disastrous for vulnerable populations in the event of their political capture.

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