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Short-term research

Over the past years, LANDac has conducted short-term research on the following topics:

Farmers’ organizations and land policies
LANDac partner Agriterra, in cooperation with the East African Farmers Federation (EAFF), has set up a short-term research project on the role of farmers’ organizations in policymaking on land governance in Uganda. The study looks at the existing strategies and institutional arrangements in different regions that have varying underlying causes for increased pressure on land, such as urbanization, oil exploitation etc. The types of actors involved in processes of land transactions, the existing strategies and institutional arrangements are studied. Vertical and horizontal linkages that formal and informal membership organizations make use of, and the way in which these result in organizations’ agency for actually influencing decision making are mapped. The inventory provides an insight into conditions for increased transparency and for effective participation of farmers’ organizations in policymaking on land allocation and land re/allocation processes.

Good practices of large-scale investments in land
Much attention has been given to the issue of ‘land grabbing’ in the last decade. Less information is available about good practices of large-scale investments in agricultural land. LANDac partners IDS-Utrecht University and the Royal Tropical Institute in cooperation with AidEnvironment have started a short-term research project that aims to identify good investment practices in terms of land use and land acquisition. The objective is to provide guidance to public and private investors and stimulate responsible investment in farmland. Four critical issues relating to responsible investment have been identified: community engagement, securing legal rights to land, corporate responsibilities in government-led land acquisition, and resolution of land-based conflict. Cases are drawn from (Dutch) public and private investors that are funding large-scale farming. The proposed good practices should be in line with international principles and standards, such as the UN Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure and the IFC Performance Standards.

Governing commercial pressure on land: What is the role of local government?
The interest of this research line is to get a better understanding of the role that states at the local level (municipalities, districts, “communes’) play in regulating processes of land acquisition and land grabbing and the implications of that role. We currently know little about the possibilities state agents at local level see to shape the process of land acquisition and how they balance development needs and protection needs: How do they understand and use their room for manoeuvre? How do they use new governance instruments and capacities in fulfilling their role? How they balance commercial and social interests? And how they balance public responsibility and potential private gain? The research is carried out by LANDac partners Wageningen University and the Royal Tropical Institute.
The emphasis on the role of local public actors complements well the two other pillars of interest defined at an earlier stage in LANDac and on which research work is currently on-going: the role of corporate actors (their interests, concerns and self-regulation, IDS) and the role of organised civil society (peasant unions in Africa, Agriterra).