Agriculture & Land Rights

One of the three key subject groupings of environmental justice, agriculture and land rights are linked on ALC's site because they are intimately linked on the continent. Agriculture -- who is farming; what they are farming; what tools they're using to farm -- matters quite a bit on a continent where so many people still go hungry and/or suffer from malnutrition. It's also directly related to several human rights: most obviously, the right to food and the right to health. Many of the questions currently being asked about agriculture also have to do with the way we're growing food. For example, are we using genetically modified seeds intended to grow better under the conditions in a certain country? What impact do these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have on output? On human health? And other questions, still, about government subsidies of certain crops and foreign export of others. Is it better to grow a huge amount of one crop? For whom? What crops are being exported and which consumed domestically? Why? Who profits from these sales?

But aside from more obviously agriculture-related issues, many of the questions surrounding agriculture in Africa are related to land ownership and land rights. Often, the debates swirling around this topic have a lot to do with the right to earn a living and enjoy the fruits of one's labour. For example, do men and women have equal rights to own land? To farm it? To profit from it? Do individuals have rights to land? Do communities? And what rights do governments have to take land? What rules govern compensation if land is taken? And to whom are governments selling the land, ultimately? These issues underpin several human rights, and fights arising from land rights issues can lead to human rights abuses, directly and indirectly.