March 24, 2014 | By Roger Thurow

Commentary Series - This Land is Our Land

By Roger Thurow

This post is part of a series developed by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Landesa to highlight the importance of securing land rights for smallholder farmers. This series is running concurrently with the World Bank’s 2014 Land and Poverty Conference taking place in Washington, D.C. Follow the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #landrights 

A great worry had barged into the little house of Leonida and Peter Wanyama in western Kenya.  They had been called to the office of the local chief.  There was a demand that they turn over part of their land.

Leonida was fuming as she related to me what they had been told:  another woman in the area was claiming she had purchased the land years earlier.  Peter argued that he never sold the land – never would! – and he had the deed to prove it.  His signature wasn’t on any of the sale documents that were presented.  Peter suspected his identification card had been copied and then used to sell his land without him knowing it.

Leonida is one of four smallholder farmers in western Kenya I profiled in my new book, The Last Hunger Season.  I followed the farmers for a year, throughout 2011, and I came to appreciate their attachment and deep commitment to the land, which created a pride of place and a dedication to sustainable farming that would preserve the land for generations to come.

Land was very dear to all Kenyan farmers, particularly the smallholders.  It was uncertain land rights that had held back agricultural development in many African

About

The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Blogroll

1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA

Archive


| By Brian Diers, Rita Mumm, Michelle da Fonseca Santos

Guest Commentary - USAID’s Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab is Working Across the Value Chain to Enable the Advancement of Soybean Development in Africa

Soybean has been the fastest growing crop for the last 20 years. Despite soybeans having a long history in Africa, soybean yields have increased very little over the last half century, especially when compared to the U.S. and Brazil. Through a number of targeted interventions, the Soybean Innovation Lab at the University of Illinois has been working to change that. 








| By Roger Thurow

I am Gita

Roger Thurow's essay "I Am Gita" from The End of Hunger, edited by Jenny Eaton Dyer and Cathleen Falsani.







| By Marshall M. Bouton

India's Mandate for Agricultural Reform

Chicago Council President Emeritus Marshall M. Bouton discusses challenges facing Indian agriculture and potential reforms to meet the government's goal of doubling farmer incomes by 2022.