The Fallacy of International Land Deals in Transforming the Rural Sector: Lessons from Tanzania
The impact of international land deals on the rural populations has become a contested terrain among academics and in public discourse. While some people argue that foreign land investments can facilitate rural development by occasioning employment creation, increasing productivity and markets, as well as promoting infrastructure development, others posits that large scale land acquisitions further marginalise the rural population by making them lose their land tenureship. Data for this paper were collected using both qualitative and quantitative methods both of which included literature search and review of relevant official documents. Data were collected from the field in two phases. In the first phase, qualitative data on land acquisition processes, actors and the roles of those involved during the negotiations for ILDs and land acquisition as well as opportunities and challenges regarding ILDs were collected and analysed. The second phase of data collection focused on quantifying some variables on pertinent issues discussed during focus groups discussions and during key informant interviews. The data gathering exercise was conducted in Kisarawe District in Tanzania, and evidence from this study is used in this paper to reveal the fallacy of the contention that international land deals can help reduce poverty in the rural areas. The paper recommends first and foremost, that the voices of the local people should be an integral part of any International Land Deal processes. The powers of Village Councils and more importantly, the Village Assemblies to accept or reject the deals should be clearly stipulated in the Village Land Act or in land regulations. Furthermore, the government of Tanzania should put in place Sustainable Land Use Management Plans that should clearly stipulate the size of village land to be used for agriculture, grazing, settlement and what should be reserved or protected forest so as to solve problems that are associated with land tenureship. It is also recommended that information about the land deals processes should be easily accessible and transparent.
Key words: international land deals, land acquisition, property rights, rural livelihoods