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From international land deals to local informal agreements: regulations of and local reactions to agricultural investments in Madagascar

Burnod P., Gingembre M., Andrianirina Ratsialonana R., Ratovoarinony R.. 2011. In : LDPI. International Conference on Global Land Grabbing, Brighton, United Kingdom, 6-8 April 2011. s.l. : s.n., 16 p.. International Conference on Global Land Grabbing, 2011-04-06/2011-04-08, Brighton (Royaume-Uni).

In 2009, the 1.3 million hectare agricultural project planned in Madagascar by Daewoo Logistics exemplified the paradoxical position of the Malagasy state; simultaneously encouraging the development of large-scale acquisition and implementing a land reform to secure local land rights. Opposition to the project was successful mainly thanks to the efforts of international NGOs and to the rhetorical value of the land issue in national political debate. Despite this well publicised victory against large scale foreign land investment in Madagascar, the trend of large scale land acquisition continues and raises a number of questions of interest to this article. On the ground, what are the dynamics of local politics within the framework of the ongoing farmland acquisition projects? Furthermore, what are the impacts of the recent land reform on investors' land access modalities? The article attempts to provide a snapshot of the numerous and complicated interactions, and overlapping of land rights which exist in areas targeted by investors. Whereas legal procedures to access land do not guarantee local and legal land rights due to the imperfect implementation of laws, informal land deals seem to take into account a broader spectrum of rights, legitimated on the basis either of local land access practices or of positive law. This paper also shows that for the moment, local protests to important land-related investments are rather limited in Madagascar and analyses the reasons why they are so (most plantations are just starting, available information is scarce, private agribusiness look very much like international development project...).

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