Civil society organisations (CSOs) in Malawi have expressed concern with the large-scale of land acquisition by foreign investors in Malawi.
Presenting preliminary findings of a study entitled Large Scale Land Investment: Implications on Food Security in Malawi, Landnet Malawi national coordinator Yvonne Mmangisa said large-scale land deals is an issue because poor people, especially those in semi urban and rural areas, are being pushed out of their good arable lands to pave way for investments in mining, timber, food and bio-fuel production.
While appreciating the contribution of foreign investments in job creation and income generation through leases and sales of land, the report exposes some dark spots of the practice.
“Most of the times we only talk about the positive sides of foreign investments, rarely do we ask ourselves pertinent questions such as at what price do we get such investments?
“But through this study, we have noted that large-scale land acquisitions is a major threat to people’s livelihoods as most of them are forced to abandon their land to pave the way for the investments.
“Large-scale land acquisitions are also a major culprit of massive environmental degradation we see in many parts of the country and food insecurity, especially at household level,” said Mmangisa when presenting the findings in Lilongwe on Friday.
The study says large-scale land acquisition is not only a problem in Malawi, but Africa as a whole.
Out of 56 million hectares put under foreign investment globally, according to the study, 70 percent are in Africa.
“But a big question we need to ask ourselves is: Can we create a win-win situation that will benefit local people as well as provide good economic returns to the investors?” reads the report in part.
The study cites world food crisis, global financial crisis and high and fluctuating fuel prices as major drivers of large-scale land deals.
The study, which is also being conducted in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia, asks governments to recognise existing rights to lands and natural resources.
Looking forward, the study also asks government to ensure that land transactions are transparent, impartial, cost-effective and that good land governance is adhered to.
The study says investment in land should strengthen and ensure food security for host communities.