African countries urged to appropriately harness agriculture land for food security

Africa has abundant land, and yet the continent is teetering at the brinks of food insecurity, poverty and hunger.

The continent has therefore been called upon to appropriately harness its agriculture land to contribute to reducing the yield gap, achieve food security, and catalyze a structural economic transformation that boosts employment and income.

In a presentation at the African Development Forum (ADF VIII), Joan Kagwanja of the AU-ECA-AfDB Land Policy Initiative, said there is the need for African countries to identify and map land taking note of current, planned land use.

She also called for the noting of ecosystem services, land rights, interests, and claims on the land before embarking on large scale land based investments.

Ms. Kagwanja emphasised that  Africa has the potential to harness (small- and large-scale) domestic and foreign investments on its agricultural land to enhance technology, infrastructure, irrigation, mechanisation, market access and value-adding processing.

She urged African government to consider what policy frameworks, guidelines and principles should define modalities for access to land by both domestic and foreign investors, indicating that recognition and security of land rights for local communities and investors must be observed.

Among other factors, she urged African governments to consider environmental sustainability and climate change issues as main concerns, and therefore, should form part of principles and  contractual arrangements on land.

She also indicated that women and vulnerable groups should be given special attention.

The biennial conference jointly organised by the UNECA, the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank is under the theme “Governing and Harnessing Natural Resources for Africa’s Development”.

Being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it ends on Thursday October 25, 2012.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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