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Large scale foreign land acquisitions: what interactions, opportunities and risks for different local farming systems? A case-study in Madagascar

Medernach K., Burnod P., Rakotomalala H.. 2012. In : IFSA. Producing and reproducing farming systems. New modes of organisation for sustainable food systems of tomorrow : 10th European IFSA Symposium, July 1-4, 2012, Aarhus, Denmark. Vienne : IFSA, 14 p.. European IFSA Symposium. 10, 2012-07-01/2012-07-04, Aarhus (Danemark).

Important foreign land acquisitions in developing countries can lead to structural transformation in existing farming systems. But does the development of mega-farms create the same opportunities and risks for the diversity of local rural households? Based on a case study in Madagascar, this paper deciphers the transformations of the local agrarian systems due to the implementation of an agrobusiness company, aiming to produce jatropha on 5000 hectares. Focusing on the local level, it deciphers the ongoing impacts and tries to overcome a vision of the "local community" as an homogenous and congruent entity. Even if the plantations are still small (230 hectares), the company implementation impacts on the local labor market (wage increase, transition accelerated from mutual aid system to labor market), migration flows (new immigration and less seasonal emigration), the local farming systems (vegetable production stops due to commoditization of manure, development of onions thanks to new comers' experience, adaptation of cattle bredding). Above all, the company plots encroach on appropriated land and generate conflict with the villagers. While the smaller farmers benefit from the company implementation (jobs, infrasctures access), the larger famers and herders are the ones who lose access to land, experience an income decrease and then oppose the company implementation. The company development also reactivates land conflicts between villagers (schematically Betsileo farmers and Sakalava herders) who both compete to have control over land access. Hence, neither investor nor local landwners manage to have secure and legal land rights. A better understanding of the agrarian system and the local tenure practices is necessary to identify the diverse stakeholders and interests in welcoming/opposing the company. A better view on whom benefit/lose from the company development, whom has land rights and whom has control over land access gives opportunites to enhance negotiation processes, improve legal empowerment and avoid violent conflictual situation, detrimental for the investor and the local inhabitants.

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