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Learning Platforms on Land Governance and Food Security

Learning Platforms on Land Governance and Food Security

In this blog series, Gemma Betsema shares her stories in the field. LANDac and the Food & Business Knowledge Platform, together with CIFOR and Shared Value Foundaton organised Learning Platforms on Food Security in Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique.

Learning Platforms on Land Governance and Food Security
LANDac Learning Platforms
January 30, 2017
Orginally appeared here.

The Netherlands Land Academy (LANDac) and the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP), together with CIFOR and Shared Value Foundation have started the Learning Platforms on Land Governance and Food Security. Building on activities of the LANDac and F&BKP, the Learning Platforms will facilitate exchanges and dialogue between private sector partners and local stakeholders in investment hubs in different countries. Activities are part of the LANDac/F&BKP learning agenda on land governance and food security, including the scoping study Flowers for Food? and three country-specific workshops on Land Governance and Food Security (LGFS).

In the coming two months, Emilinah Namaganda and Gemma Betsema will start working in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor in Tanzania to collaborate with stakeholders and identify common objectives and action plans for the coming year. Investment areas in Uganda and Mozambique will follow later this year.

Background
In recent years, debates around land-based investments have focused on making investments more inclusive and sustainable, including raising companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility profile. Within approaches of ‘inclusive business’ or ‘shared value creation’, the use of multi-stakeholder processes has been on the rise. By bringing together different stakeholders and exchanging views, it is the aim of these approaches to make businesses beneficial for everyone involved. However, what is less clear in the existing processes is how local stakeholders are represented in the discussions, including diversities and dynamics at the local level, existing expectations, and livelihood priorities and engagement with businesses. Moreover, impact analyses tend to be biased towards economic impacts (namely job creation) and environmental impacts of the investment instead of social impacts. At the same time, this project aims to take into account people that live near the investment but are not directly involved in the business model.

Learning platforms
With the goal of including local context in multi-stakeholder processes, this collaborative project will organize three Learning Platforms on Land Governance and Food Security in which local knowledge and bottom-up research is combined with multi-stakeholder learning and dialogue, accompanied by follow-up activities for implementation and monitoring. The Learning Platforms will focus on concrete investments in Tanzania, Mozambique and Uganda; countries that are receiving large-scale land-based investments. The Learning Platforms consist of bottom-up research around specific investments with the aim to map the local context. The findings will be brought into three-day learning meetings with the investor and different stakeholders involved. The learning meetings will lead to the identification of actions that can contribute to better aligning investments with the local context. In the remainder of the year, several shorter follow-up meetings with stakeholder groups will be organized to ensure that the change processes are monitored.

Aims and goals
By starting the Learning Platforms with bottom-up research of diversity in the local context, the project aims to better align the investments with local needs and expectations while starting an open exchange about innovative approaches to improve impacts locally. Communities will have better information about the investment, while investors increase their knowledge about what is happening in the area, including business risks and opportunities.

Highlights from Learning Platform on investments in Tanzania
Blogpost #01 on Learning Platforms Land Governance & Food Security
June 27, 2017 By: Gemma Betsema Image: CIFOR (by: Nkumi Mtingwa)
Orginally appeard here.

On April 27 and 28, 2017, a first multi-stakeholder Learning Platform on Land Governance and Food Security was organized in Ifakara, Tanzania1. The Learning Platform creates space for dialogue and learning around land-based investments in agriculture and forestry in the Kilombero Valley in Tanzania.

The main question addressed during the two-day meeting was how to better align land-based investments with local development priorities. Two central pillars of the multi-stakeholder approach in the Learning Platform are: 1) preparatory bottom-up research into local priorities and; 2) integration of a structure for follow-up and monitoring to support on the ground changes. This blogpost shares some highlights from this process and presents an agenda for action.

Kilombero Valley
The Kilombero Valley is generally seen as an investment hub with good climatic conditions and fertile soils, and hosts a number of large-scale land-based investments in agriculture and forestry. Three long-standing investments have been present in the area: the Kilombero Sugar Company (KSC) since 1962, Kilombero Plantations Limited (KPL) since 1986, and the Kilombero Valley Teak Company (KVTC) since 1992. The Valley has changed significantly since the arrival of these companies, who all have large plantations between 5,800 and 10,700 hectares and integrate thousands of smallholders in their business models. Next to direct company-attributed effects, the area faces amongst others effects of migration, climate change, and nature conservation.

The Learning Platform in April gathered a total of 23 participants, including representatives from the companies, local communities surrounding the investment areas, district government officials, civil society organizations and researchers working in the area.

Local priorities
The discussions were kicked-off with the findings of the local assessment in a number of selected villages around two of the main investments in the Kilombero Valley (KSC and KVTC). The goal of the assessment was to uncover some of the local expectations, development priorities, and aspirations of community members confronted with investments. This is also one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Learning Platform: whereas we have seen quite an increase in multi-stakeholder dialogues around land-based investments worldwide, the platform’s discussions were grounded in research findings from communities living around the investments.

This bottom-up research showed that companies increased residents’ income through employment and contributed to local development projects using established social funds. The local assessment also identified ways in which companies were seen as working against the community aspirations. For example, there was limited communication with communities regarding company activities in their villages and limited involvement of youth in the investments. Several of the challenges found were experienced in similar ways across the two investments. Other pressures faced by the communities were climate change, poor governance, and low education; it was discussed how these pressures had an impact on the relationship between the investors and local communities.

Facts and figures directly ‘from the ground’, including an insight in ‘broader local development priorities’, were received positively as a start for discussions in the Platform. Participants recognized that there are important gaps in expectations from different stakeholders: businesses are there to do business and expect government to contribute to an enabling environment to do that, meanwhile governments expect businesses to contribute to development, and local communities receive scattered and sometimes unreliable information regarding what they can expect from companies and the government.

Ways forward – an agenda for collaborative action in 2017
Four overarching priority challenges for follow-up activities were identified through collaborative group work: limited communication among investors and communities; limited transparency of the investors particularly in their contracts with communities; poor governance and accountability in some places; and restricted youth involvement. Companies in close coordination with community members, district government and civil society, identified a number of concrete activities that they are interested in working on in the coming weeks and months.

The platform showed a number of lessons in the use of multi-stakeholder approaches to making investments more inclusive and sustainable. First, the exchange of experiences between companies in different value chains – and how such exchange can contribute to adaptive learning of different stakeholders. Even though business models are quite different, in terms of their organisation and potential to be inclusive, companies did face similar challenges and appreciated an open platform to learn from each other’s experiences. It also showed the value of information coming straight from communities, and companies in particular appreciated the attendance of a number of individual community members, which led to increased understanding of local priorities – and how their business activities fit (or don’t fit) in those existing local ideas of development. The platform members came up with a number of very concrete ideas for improving development impact of investments, and are currently working on activities to increase transparency, improve communication and strengthen community involvement in the business models.

Early findings from the Kilombero Valley

  • The value of and appreciation of bottom-up local research as departure point for multi-stakeholder dialogue
  • The merits of taking a territorial/geographical approach, in facilitating exchange between a mix of different business models
  • The importance of creating a continuous process around multi-stakeholder exchange, with follow-up support and collaborative monitoring.

The Learning Platform meeting is part of a continuous process throughout 2017, and the platform members will continue to meet in the remainder of the year, for support to follow-up activities and reflective monitoring. The first Learning Platform meeting in April was used to explore current challenges and developments, to set the agenda, and to identify topics for collaborative action. In the coming months, similar Learning Platforms will be organized in Mozambique and Uganda.

Learning Platform update: Highlights from Mozambique
Blogpost #02 on Learning Platforms Land Governance & Food Security
Learning Platforms Blog #02 Mozambique
November 8, 2017 By: Gemma Betsema Image: Gemma Betsema
Orginally appeared here.

Since the first multi-stakeholder Learning Platform on Land Governance and Food Security in Tanzania on April 27 and 28 (Blogpost #1), LANDac and partners have organized two additional Learning Platforms in Mozambique and Uganda. This new blogpost shares the highlights from the Mozambique Learning Platforms which took place in the city of Chimoio on July 27 and 28, 2017.

The Learning Platforms create space for dialogue and learning around land-based investments in agriculture and forestry. The platforms focus on how to better align land-based investments with local development priorities. Each two-day platform meeting is preceded by research in communities in the investment areas, and followed by monitoring meetings and continued engagement. This project is initiated by LANDac, together with CIFOR, the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP) and Shared Value Foundation (SVF).

Mozambique: Beira corridor
The provinces of Manica and Sofala in Mozambique – located along the Beira growth corridor – are seen as the gateway to South-East Africa, with Beira as the main port and Chimoio as a key transit hub to Zimbabwe, Malawi and beyond. The area has attracted a large number of land-based investments in agriculture and forestry, and new investments are still coming in due to this favourable geographical location, as well as its agricultural potential.

Three land-based investments – located along the Beira corridor – participated in the Learning Platform in Chimoio: Tongaat Hulett Sugar (sugar cane; plantations and smallholder production); Portucel Moçambique (eucalyptus; plantations); and Westfalia (avocado and lychees; smallholder production). The Learning Platform gathered a total of 26 participants, representing these companies, local government, communities, research and civil society.

Local priorities: employment and diversifying agriculture
The discussions in Chimoio were kicked-off with a presentation of the research findings of a local assessment done in communities around the investments involved. A shared interest in finding employment with the companies came out strongly for all three investments, regardless the type of investment and the actual number of jobs created by the companies. This means employment opportunities were ranked highly as a priority for communities living near the sugar investment where thousands of jobs have been created, as well as near the eucalyptus and fruit investments, where few direct jobs are available. Besides jobs, respondents indicated a strong interest for further engaging with the companies, but ideas of how exactly are not always so clear. One suggestion which came forward several times, was the interest of community members in receiving more information about potential ways in which they might seek collaboration with the existing companies, this was particularly true for Tongaat Hulett and Westfalia. For example, in the area where Westfalia buys lychees, many local farmers currently growing the fruits were interested in the option to sell their produce to the company – but it was often not clear how to contact the company and express their interest.

In terms of livelihood priorities, research findings showed a strong preference towards agriculture-related activities, including expanding and diversifying agricultural production with a strong focus on food crops. Community members saw a role for the companies in contributing to agriculture-related activities. Access to markets for products that are already grown in the different areas, varying from maize and beans, to tangerines and lychees, were seen as an impactful way of contributing to local development.

Ways forward
The Chimoio Learning Platform led to a process of collaborative planning in which multi-stakeholder groups discussed ways forward and activities that would address some of the issues identified. To support agricultural livelihoods, each company identified a number of activities. For a company like Westfalia these are very much aligned with their business model, providing training and support to local growers of lychees, as well as linking them up to alternative markets. One of the issues identified in the assessment in Westfalia communities was that lychees unsuitable for EU markets because of their size, were now rejected and sold on local markets for a much lower price. Westfalia is working on getting access to alternative markets, amongst others in South Africa, so that the rejected fruits can still be sold on more profitable markets.

Tongaat Hulett Sugar and Portucel, in addressing some of the challenges brought forward from the research, expanded their focus beyond their core business (sugar cane and eucalyptus respectively). Tongaat Hulett plans to support the set-up of more associations in the area, which focus on other agricultural products than sugar cane. They provide support to setting up these associations and try to link them to markets. Portucel on the other hand, has been providing extension services to smallholder farmers in the areas around their plantations. One of their plans – following the Learning Platform – is to look into opportunities to establish block agriculture in which eucalyptus is combined with other crops in agro-forestry arrangements.

In the months to come, the Learning Platform team will remain in contact with the group, to support implementation of the activity plans of the companies. Follow-up activities consist of update meetings later in the year, as well as focus group discussions in communities where research was conducted initially to create feedback mechanisms.

Sugar and forestry investments in Uganda: lessons from a first Learning Platform in Jinja
Blogpost #03 on Learning Platforms Land Governance & Food Security
Learning Platforms Blog #03 Uganda
December 13, 2017 By: F&BKP Office Image: Shared Value Foundation (by: Romy Santpoort)
Originally appeared here.

After two Learning Platforms in Tanzania and Mozambique, LANDac and partners organized their third multi-stakeholder learning event in Jinja, Uganda on September 21 and 22, 2017. The platform in Jinja focused on two major investments in the region: one in agriculture (sugar) and one in forestry (pine trees and eucalyptus), and brought together representatives from those investments, local and national government officials, civil society organizations and representatives from six local communities living within the investment areas. This blogpost shares some of the main findings from the preparatory local research in August and September, and main discussions during the two-day learning event.

The Learning Platforms in Tanzania, Mozambique and Uganda create space for dialogue and learning around land-based investments in agriculture and forestry. The platforms focus on how to better align land-based investments with local development priorities. Each two-day platform meeting is preceded by research in communities in the investment areas, and followed by monitoring meetings and continued engagement. The project is initiated by LANDac, together with CIFOR, the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP), and implemented by Shared Value Foundation (SVF).

The location: Jinja, Uganda
Jinja is a small town in Uganda, and located approximately 80 kilometres from the capital Kampala. Jinja is a town of almost 80,000 inhabitants (2014 census), but is of significant importance for economic activities in the region. Several larger and smaller land-based investments are located in the area, and the Kampala-Jinja corridor is part of the East Africa Northern Corridor. This corridor links South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, the Eastern part of the DRC and Uganda to the Mombasa port in Kenya at the shores of the Indian Ocean. The road between the two cities is the busiest road in Uganda, and the surrounding districts of Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Buikwe, Jinja and Mayuge have hosted large-scale investments for decades because of their fertile soils and strategic location, including the proximity to the capital. The area currently hosts several large plantations and estates and has been supplying the country with large quantities of produce including coffee, tea, sugar, fruit and vegetables.

The investments: sugar and timber
Two major investments in the districts of Jinja and Mayuge participated in the preparatory local research and multi-stakeholder event: Kakira Sugar Works (KSW) and Busoga Forestry Company (BFC). Kakira Sugar Works is part of the Madhvani Group of companies, an influential and long-established investment in the region and provides jobs for about 7,500 individuals in the area, in addition to sourcing sugarcane from around 7,000 smallholder sugarcane producers. Busoga Forestry Company is a subsidiary of the Norwegian forestry investment Green Resources and manages close to 6,000 hectares of pine tree and eucalyptus plantations in Mayuge district. Both companies were visited multiple times prior to the platform, they provided information for selecting the research locations, and participated actively in the two-day Learning Platform with other stakeholders in September.

The research: contributions and restrictions to local development
The research showed diverse outcomes for both investments, reflecting the history and different models of the investments. For Kakira, a sugar company that has been working in the area for a long time, and who actively works with smallholder farmers, the research showed recognition of the company’s contribution to development in the area. Almost all sugarcane farmers stressed the huge positive impact of the establishment of a number of competing sugar factories in the same area. This has greatly increased prices paid for raw sugarcane in the area: respondents reported that prices have multiplied five times since the establishment of other companies. Some negative consequences of the establishment of new sugar processing companies were also voiced, including an increase in bad smells coming from the factories and reduced Corporate Social Responsibility activities (e.g. clearing of roads) and provision of extension services from Kakira around areas close to the new companies.

BFC, on the other hand, has a different relationship with the communities in their plantations. There is no direct, active engagement of local producers as suppliers of timber, and – most importantly – the company doesn’t officially recognize the people living in the area. This means people are only allowed to live in mud houses, and cannot build permanent structures. Main issues around the plantations include a severe sense of land access insecurity and limited CSR activities. People stressed that when the company started out, local population used to co-exist with the company and practiced grazing and intercropping between young trees on the plantation. Most complaints from respondents were related to the stricter rules and regulation the company has started to employ, as well as the increasing pressure on land. Following their original agreement with the Government of Uganda, the company is trying to get the complete 9,000 ha of the Bukaleba Central Forest Reserve under coverage of trees, which basically leaves no area for the current population for settlement nor cultivation.

The discussions: alternative livelihoods and increased understanding across stakeholders
The platform meeting in Jinja was attended by 23 participants from private companies, communities surrounding the investments, civil society organizations with projects in the area, researchers, and government officials from the two districts. The programme was spread across two days. On day one, stakeholders identified four priority issues to further work on: inadequate communication and transparency, social-economic topics (with a focus on education), land issues (unclarity of boundaries and conflict around land use) and limited community involvement and participation.

The action: follow-up activity plans
Following the discussions on the first day, and building on the priority issues identified on the second day, three groups were formed, each containing representatives from each sector? The groups worked jointly on concrete ideas for addressing some of the challenges existing in communities. A first group worked on issues of education. They proposed to work towards better education services through creating community-based organizations of parents, who are interested in improving education. Through those groups, they can lobby with both companies to work on this. A second group worked specifically on land issues around BFC. They proposed a number of activities to find alternative livelihood activities so that dependency on land resources can be reduced; while also improving public relations between BFC and the communities (focusing on local employment, CSR spending according to community priorities, and increased sensitization of stakeholders). A final group worked on ways to increase community engagement and partnerships. Their main ideas centred on the establishment of a round table of stakeholders and activities focusing on training and capacity building (also contributing to increased exchange between stakeholders, with attention for two-way communication).

Participants of the platform finalized the meeting by agreeing on a number of first steps to be taken by several platform participants. These steps ranged from Kakira Sugar and the Jinja NGO Forum taking the lead on setting up a round table of stakeholders; to the initiative of Rehema, a resident of one of the villages, to make a first list of parents interested in lobbying for quality education.

Early 2018, a synthesis report will be published, presenting overall findings and outcomes of the Learning Platforms.

_ _ _

In the coming weeks, the team will re-visit Jinja and Mayuge districts to conduct follow-up focus group discussions in the different communities – which are organized in close collaboration with the community members who have joined the Learning Platform.

Reflection paper on land governance and food security
Lessons from Uganda, Ghana and Ethiopia learning trajectories
August 31, 2016 By: F&BKP Office Image: LANDac
Orginially appeared here.

As part of a Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP) knowledge agenda on land governance and food security, LANDac organized three country-specific learning trajectories on land governance and food security in Uganda, Ghana and Ethiopia. This reflection paper brings together the main findings and outcomes to provide policy recommendations for improved land governance and food security in Africa.

The three events, held in 2015, focused on topics of land governance and food security and the linkages between the two in the different countries. The learning trajectories, organized jointly with partner organizations, each drew between 20 and 25 professionals who currently work on issues of land governance and food security in their home countries. Participants were from academia, NGOs, multi-lateral organizations, national and local governments, farmers’ organizations, the Netherlands Embassy and the private sector.

Through joint study, exchange and discussion on the complex linkages between land governance and food security, as well as presentations given by local experts, by field visits to land-based investments and local government offices, and by developing action plans for their respective organizations, the four-day learning and exchange events provided participants and their organizations with knowledge and tools to better deal with issues of land governance and food security.

The reflection paper introduces a number of key concepts, highlights main outcomes and cases from the three events, and provides policy recommendations based on the findings.

To link land governance and food security, we present four areas of focus:

  1. Policies on land governance and food security, including international frameworks and processes;
  2. The role of land administration and land use planning;
  3. Responsible agri-business investments and impacts on food security;
  4. The role of gender in equitable access to land and improved food security.

Recommendations centre on creating better linkages between policies and actions that aim to improve land governance and food security. One example is to establish stronger connections between land administration and land use planning for local food security. By realizing that land administration does not automatically lead to enhanced land tenure security or improved food security, attention should be given to fit-for-purpose land administration practices which take into account local contexts and consider the outcomes, especially for vulnerable groups. Businesses can also play a role by taking into account the local food security impacts of their investments and including mechanisms to enhance food security in CSR strategies. In all of this, women’s participation and ownership, access to and use of land are crucial for positive and sustainable outcomes in terms of food security.

LANDac and its partners will continue to engage in this and related areas by continuing in their research agenda, by developing a number of land governance and food security learning hubs in Dutch developing partner countries, and by generating opportunities for interaction between researchers, practitioners, policy makers and businesses on issues of land governance and food security.