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Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (2015)

The impact of large-scale land-acquisition in East Africa on poverty reduction and rural economy : Studies from Ethiopia and Uganda

Baumgartner, P.

Titre : The impact of large-scale land-acquisition in East Africa on poverty reduction and rural economy : Studies from Ethiopia and Uganda

Auteur : Baumgartner, P.

Université de soutenance : Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

Grade : Doktor der Agrarwissenschaften (Dr. agr.) 2015

Résumé
There is an increasing interest of acquiring farmland abroad, especially following the food price crisis in 2007/08. East Africa is a hotspot of activities, and given the high prevalence of poor people in the area, impacts on rural livelihoods are expected to be substantial. Following significant primary data collection in Ethiopia and Uganda, the study analyses the impact of two such large-scale land acquisitions on the rural economy and the local population’s livelihood, using Theory-based Impact Evaluations (Hemmer 2011) within an analytical framework of layered social analysis (Williamson 2000). Impact is assumed to manifest through five major channels : land, labour, natural resources, technological & organisational innovation and institutional change. The study consists of five chapters : The introduction surveys the global trend, reviews existing evidence and relevant theory to elaborate a conceptual and an analytical framework for the research. The second chapter takes stock of trend and types of large-scale land acquisitions in Eastern Africa, using national official data from Ethiopia and Uganda. While there is a clear increase in number of land transactions, media reports are only confirmed in a small fraction. Investors are coming from Europe, the Arabic peninsula as well as other emerging economies in the global South (South Africa and India, specifically). However, a surprisingly large number of acquisitions is done by domestic investors. The third chapter analyses the early stage impact of a large scale land acquisition in the far western lowlands of Ethiopia. A Saudi-Ethiopian investor tries to develop 10,000 ha for irrigated rice production. Building on primary household data and qualitative information gathered in the area in 2010, a mathematical programming model is calibrated to quantify likely impacts exante. The investment is found to have poverty reducing potential, mainly due to employment creation and growth of the rural non-farm economy. However, the local population has to bear uncompensated costs of lost forestland and local inequalities are likely to widen in consequence of unequal participation on employment and business opportunities. The fourth chapter examines a forty year old large-scale investment in Uganda to understand long-term impacts, especially regarding technological and organisational innovation, as well as institutional change. Using an institutional economic analysis, changes at the organisational structure of the investment can be related to broader changes in the surrounding rural economy, indicating the significant impact a LSLAs can have on rural transformation. Again, the investment has overall contributed to poverty reduction, but organisational flaws and the collapse of a contract farming scheme indicate the difficulties to govern the large farm well. The emergence of a land market for wetlands, adoption of rice as a new crop and organisational improvements among smallholders can be considered as major outcomes of the investment’s activities. The fifth chapter synthesises the early three empirical chapters and locates the findings within a broader set of trends regarding the commercialisation of the agri-food system, the discussion on optimal farm size for production and poverty reduction, and the importance of functioning land and labour markets for poverty reduction and rural transformation in developing economies.

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