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Livelihood Implications of Large-Scale Land Concessions in Mozambique: A case of family farmers’ endurance
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5522-5280
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the process and the implications of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) for local livelihoods, especially the livelihoods of those who make a living from farming. These individuals were historically known as peasants and are now more commonly referred to as smallholders, small-scale farmers or family farmers. What happens to their livelihoods as land under their control is allocated to investors?

Promoters of LSLAs stress that when land acquisitions are preceded by community consultations, there may be synergism between investors’ activities and local livelihoods. Accordingly, local farmers are expected to gain from, for example, closer ties to the market and new livelihood alternatives such as formal employment. Differently, critical voices contend that despite sound legislation on the matter, in practice LSLAs constitute drivers of dispossession, being therefore disguised land grabs. This research seeks to fill a knowledge gap on the immediate local livelihood implications of LSLAs. By employing a case study design in Mozambique (one of the countries targeted by recent LSLAs), this thesis adds empirical evidence that is crucial to the above-named theoretical debate involving LSLAs.

The analyzed case is pivoted by a Chinese company that in 2012 was granted 20,000 hectares in the lower Limpopo region. Despite legislation that asserts the legality of customary land occupation, in practice, land was seized without adequate consultation and compensation. Consequently, local farmers lost the most fertile areas. Nonetheless, farmers were able to regain or maintain access to farmland that was more peripheral and of worse quality. Concomitantly, the company generated a small number of jobs and created a contract farming scheme that, despite bottlenecks, benefited farmers who were able to handle risk. In general, families who lost land and those who entered the contract farming scheme strive to keep a foothold on farmland – a strategy that is partly explained by the economic rationale of seeking to meet the consumption needs of current and future generations. Additionally, family land is embedded with symbolic value (illustrated, for example, by individuals’ relations with ancestors buried in family land). The existence of symbolic and thus immaterial values that land embodies poses insurmountable challenges to the idea that it is possible to achieve fair compensation for the loss of land and the environment in general.

This study shows the renewed pressure (now through the hands of private actors backed by public efforts) placed on family farmers, derived livelihood trends (i.e., the overall precarization of family farming, the widening of economic inequality, and the feminization of poverty), and family farmers’ continuous endurance. Ultimately, this study illustrates local processes and livelihood implications of LSLAs in Mozambique, and likely also in contexts marked by similar democratic deficits and renewed incursions over valuable land that is intensively used. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2020. , p. 189
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 180
Keywords [en]
Large-scale land acquisitions, land concessions, land grabs, livelihoods, family farmers, peasants, gender, community consultations, popular deliberation, cultural ecosystem services, Mozambique, Lower Limpopo Valley
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social and Economic Geography Globalisation Studies
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-42236ISBN: 978-91-89109-33-9 (print)ISBN: 978-91-89109-34-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-42236DiVA, id: diva2:1501368
Public defence
2020-12-11, MA636/via link, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-11-18 Created: 2020-11-16 Last updated: 2021-01-07Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Land Concessions and Rural Livelihoods in Mozambique: The Gap Between Anticipated and Real Benefits of a Chinese Investment in the Limpopo Valley
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Land Concessions and Rural Livelihoods in Mozambique: The Gap Between Anticipated and Real Benefits of a Chinese Investment in the Limpopo Valley
2017 (English)In: Journal of Southern African Studies, ISSN 0305-7070, E-ISSN 1465-3893, Vol. 43, no 6, p. 1181-1198Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In rural Mozambique, as in other African countries, large-scale land acquisitions are on the rise. This process is usually portrayed by host governments and investors as comprising win–win deals that can simultaneously boost agricultural productivity and combat poverty. This article focuses on one such investment, a large-scale Chinese land acquisition in the lower Limpopo valley, where attempts to modernise agriculture have occurred since colonial times. Based on an analysis of primary quantitative and qualitative data, this study explores livelihoods in the targeted area and local experiences and views regarding land loss and its implications. Our findings reveal a top-down process enabled by disregard for sound legislation, whereby land dispossession was followed by ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ opportunities that were unsuited to the most land-dependent livelihoods, particularly those of single-headed households. As the modernisation of the region is once again attempted through the promotion of large-scale agriculture, important historical continuities prevail. This study adds critical evidence to the discussion on the local development potential of land deals in Mozambique and other areas marked by similar democratic deficits. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2017
Keywords
Development studies, community consultation, female-headed household, land grabbing, large-scale land acquisition, Mozambique, rural livelihood
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-33588 (URN)10.1080/03057070.2017.1377932 (DOI)000415960000005 ()2-s2.0-85030561577 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2017-10-16 Created: 2017-10-16 Last updated: 2020-11-23Bibliographically approved
2. Large-scale land acquisitions aggravate the feminization of poverty: findings from a case study in Mozambique
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Large-scale land acquisitions aggravate the feminization of poverty: findings from a case study in Mozambique
2019 (English)In: GeoJournal, ISSN 0343-2521, E-ISSN 1572-9893, Vol. 84, no 1, p. 215-231Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The local implications of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs), commonly referred to as land grabs, are at the center of an exponential production of scientific literature that only seldom focuses on gender. Our case study aims to contribute to filling this analytical gap. Based on structured interviews and focus groups, we investigate local experiences in the lower Limpopo valley in Mozambique, where a Chinese investor was granted 20,000 hectares in 2012. Our findings show that land access in the affected area varied prior to land seizure due to historical land use differences and after land seizure mainly due to non-universal compensation. Furthermore, we show that as farming conditions deteriorate, a trend toward both the feminization of smallholder farming and the feminization of poverty is consolidated. Succinctly, as available land becomes increasingly constricted, labor is allocated differently to alternative activities. This process is by no means random or uniform among households, particularly in a context in which women prevail in farm activities and men prevail in off-farm work. As men disengage further from smallholder farming, women remain directly dependent on fields that are smaller and of worse quality or reliant on precarious day labor in the remaining farms. We contend that the categories female-headed and male-headed households, although not inviolable, are useful in explaining the different implications of LSLAs in areas in which gender strongly substantiates individuals’ livelihood alternatives. © 2018 The Author(s)

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2019
Keywords
Development studies, Female-headed households, Feminization of poverty, Gender, Land grabbing, Large-scale land acquisition, Mozambique’s Limpopo valley, Land use, Land acquisition, Mozambique, Mergers and acquisitions
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-34697 (URN)10.1007/s10708-017-9836-1 (DOI)000459424700013 ()2-s2.0-85042138941 (Scopus ID)
Note

Fieldwork for the study entitled “Large-scale land acquisitions aggravate the feminization of poverty: Findings from a case study in Mozambique” was funded by the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography, and the foundation Forskraftstiftelsen Theodor Adelswärds Minne.

Available from: 2018-03-02 Created: 2018-03-02 Last updated: 2020-11-16Bibliographically approved
3. Why Does Deliberative Community Consultation in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions Fail?: A Critical Analysis of Mozambican Experiences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Why Does Deliberative Community Consultation in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions Fail?: A Critical Analysis of Mozambican Experiences
2018 (English)In: Revista iberoamericana de estudios de desarrollo / Iberoamerican Journal of Development Studies, E-ISSN 2254-2035, Vol. 7, no 2, p. 164-193Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Community consultation prior to large-scale land acquisitions (LSLA) is a cornerstone that justifies the portrayal of projects as partnerships or land grabs. This study focuses on one of the countries most targeted by LSLA in the last decade, namely, Mozambique. We examine the legal and theoretical bases that support community consultations and analyse their corresponding everyday practices in Mozambique. The article argues that, although the existence of these participatory forums is inspired by normative ideals of popular deliberation, the prevailing practices in these spaces are diametrically opposed to deliberative foundations and values. As shown in this study, this mismatch between theory that is institutionalized in legal frameworks and practice derives largely from the interplay of hierarchical relations anchored in, inter alia, formal and customary ethnically based realms, gender disparities, and livelihood orientations. A core argument of the article is that any attempt to ameliorate these practices must consider critical insights regarding the centrality of enhancing social equality and inclusion in participatory spaces —challenges that are immense in places marked by deep structural inequalities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Prensas Universitarias Universidad de Zaragoza, 2018
Keywords
Development studies, consultation, deliberative democracy, large-scale land acquisition, land-grabbing, land rights, Mozambique, consultas, democracia deliberativa, adquisición de tierras a gran escala, apropiación de tierras, derechos a la tierra, Mozambique
National Category
Law and Society Social and Economic Geography Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-36725 (URN)10.26754/ojs_ried/ijds.274 (DOI)000449492400007 ()2-s2.0-85056593972 (Scopus ID)
Note

Fieldwork supported by the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography, and the foundation Forskraftstiftelsen Theodor Adelswärds Minne.

Available from: 2018-11-09 Created: 2018-11-09 Last updated: 2020-11-16Bibliographically approved
4. Enriching perspectives: experienced ecosystem services in rural Mozambique and the importance of a gendered livelihood approach to resist reductionist analyses of local culture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Enriching perspectives: experienced ecosystem services in rural Mozambique and the importance of a gendered livelihood approach to resist reductionist analyses of local culture
Show others...
2020 (English)In: Ecology & Society, E-ISSN 1708-3087, Vol. 25, no 4, article id 20Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Based on a case study from rural Mozambique, we stress that ecosystem services research may be enriched through gendered livelihood approaches, particularly in terms of experienced ecosystem services. Ecosystem services studies have been accused of being gender blind. We argue for the value of open narratives that are attentive to the gender dynamics underpinning the production and reproduction of livelihoods. By focusing on the experienced gender dimension of ecosystem services, livelihood perspectives fulfill the normative role of providing a people-centered means to assess the values of the environment “from below” and can therefore constitute an entry point to a holistic understanding of by whom, how, when, and why the environment is experienced as valuable. Our findings stress the dynamism and plurality of experienced ecosystem services (i.e., they vary across groups and time and cross-cut material and immaterial dimensions), as well as the asymmetrical gendered and fundamentally cultural relations that they enable. Accounting for the experienced gender dimension of ecosystem services is critical to contextualize the environment in people’s lifeworlds and to make understandings of ecosystem services representative of, and instrumental to, people’s voices and agendas. We show how such enriched, diverse, bottom-up ecosystem services perspectives form an essential foundation (together with ecological research) for resisting applications of reductionist top-down categories assumed to represent general local values.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Resilience Alliance Publications, 2020
Keywords
Development studies, cultural embeddedness, experienced ecosystem services, gender, livelihoods, Mozambique, Nguava
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-42237 (URN)10.5751/ES-11781-250420 (DOI)000603995100008 ()2-s2.0-85098551502 (Scopus ID)
Note

Som manuskript i avhandling. As manuscript in dissertation.

Available from: 2020-11-17 Created: 2020-11-17 Last updated: 2022-09-15Bibliographically approved

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Porsani, Juliana

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