Land use in Africa can lead to food security: LPI

ADDIS ABABA: Africa has abundant agricultural land which, if appropriately harnessed, can contribute to achieving food security, reduce the yield gap and catalyse structural economic transformation to boost employment and income.

This was the view of the Chief of the Land Policy Initiative (LPI), Joan Kagwanja at the opening of a one-day training workshop on land issues in Africa for journalists on Monday.

The workshop was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

It took place ahead of a four-day conference on land policy in Africa organised by the LPI in partnership with the United Nations Human Settlements’ Programme (UN-Habitat), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The conference is taking place at the African Union (AU) conference centre, also in Addis Ababa, from 11 to 14 November 2014.

It is being held under the theme “The next decade of land policy in Africa: ensuring agricultural development and inclusive growth”.

Kagwanja said the African continent can better harness land use for agriculture.

“Africa has the potential to harness domestic and foreign investments on its agricultural land to enhance technology, infrastructure, irrigation, market access and value-adding processing,” she stated.

With regards to how to strengthen institutions which govern land rights and investments, she noted that efficient, transparent, democratic and accessible institutions are key to a facilitative investment climate for small and large-scale producers.

Such investments should comply with national laws, regional and international conventions on land, gender equity as well as development in general.

Meanwhile, the Head of the Rural Economy Division at the AU Commission Janet Edeme said at the same occasion that there is no doubt that journalists and the media can be critical partners in increasing public awareness about land reforms, and in changing attitudes and practices to do with land use and management.

“But, the media are rarely targeted for capacity development on land issues. Without the requisite knowledge on land governance concerns, journalists are unlikely to report on land in a manner which is both consistent and accurate, and reflects the complexity of land issues on the continent,” she added.

Representatives from AU member states, farmers’ and civil society organisations, research institutions and academia as well as land surveyors, mapping companies and donors are expected to attend the conference, which ends on Friday.

The LPI was established by the AU Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2006 in recognition of the importance of land to Africa’s development.