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Apr 13, 2012

Madgascar's Problems Implementing Land Reform

Malagasy Village
Photo: HF
On 13 April 2012 IRIN published on article covering the government of Madagascar's problems in implementing land reform.  In 2007, the government began promoting a National Land Reform Program supportive of local land rights and decentralizing land management.  This was funded in part by a US$110 million "compact" (aid grant) from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the bilateral foreign aid agency established by US President George W Bush in 2005.  Madagascar was the first country to receive such a grant.  In 2007-2008, MCC set up 235 local land offices in six regions, handed out 60,000 certificates, and trained staff to process land reform paperwork.

Madagascar's National Land Reform Program was suppose to change Madagascar from subsistence agriculture to market economy based agriculture.  However, while implementing the land reform program the Malagasy government was also approving contrary policies such as allocating 1.3 million hectares of land to South Korean company Daewoo Logistics to produce palm oil and corn for export to Korea.  This led in part to the political disturbances in 2008-2009 that ousted president Marc Ravalomanana and supported the coup d'état by Andry Rajoelina.

MCC terminated funding for land reform grant following the coup d'état.  However, the non-profit organization EFA (Ezaka ho Fampandrosoana any Ambanivohitra, meaning Together for Rural Development) is still operating and trying to salvage some of the work already undertaken.  It is working with Madagascar's National Land Programme, which continues to function minimally with some support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Agricultural production is clearly hampered by land ownership issues.  In addition to local, regional and national regulations, there are foreign ownership issues.  There are lands still claimed by former French colonizers who no longer live in Madagascar. There are also other land ownership issues with other international agribusiness companies.  According to documentation presented at the 2011 International Conference on Global Land Grabbing there are approximately 30 large-scale international agribusinesses operating 150,000 hectares that produce sugarcane, cassava and biofuels.  It remains a matter of controversy as to how and why these companies have the right to the land when local villagers can not file their claims.

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About Margaret


CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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