Land is a prized possession in Africa. It is what separates the boys from the men. For years, land in Africa was bequeathed to the sons. The assumption was the women would get married and share the husbands’ land. Today, women are also fighting to have a share of the property, especially for Agriculture use.
Unfortunately, the land tenure systems in Africa has failed to support the use of technology in food production. The children who inherited the land their parents are still utilizing land in the same way their great-grandparents did decades ago. Although some people appreciate the importance of introducing technology to boost production, some do not see the need to change what has been working for generations.
How land tenure system is negatively affecting the use of technology in Agriculture
Africa experiences plenty of land ownership tussles. Unfortunately, these cases drag on for years in the courts, and during this period, no one wants to invest in technology since he or she does not know the outcome of such cases. For example, South Africa is still faced with the battle of land expropriation. In the first quarter of 2018, the South African government promised to hasten the process of transferring land from white to black owners in a bid to correct the errors made in the past. However, this has been a slow process. In 1994, there were plans to restore at least 30% of the land within 20 years. To date, this has not been achieved.
Ethiopia, on the other hand, has a unique land tenure system. The Ethiopian government owns the land, and the usufruct rights have been given to the farmers. Ethiopia was colonized for a brief period compared to other African countries. However, its land tenure system is linked to the 1975 land reform. All the land was nationalized, and all the previous land tenure systems were abolished. Since the farmers do not feel the property is indeed theirs, the investment in Agriculture has not been as it ought to be.
In Kenya, the post-colonial land disputes are undermining the potential of the agricultural sector. Individuals who were allocated arable land are either not utilizing it as it should be or are unable to manage the properties by introducing technology to boost crop production. Some of the land lots are too big for landowners to afford the investment needed to utilize the land entirely. There are also several court cases surrounding land ownership, especially from descendants of those that lost property in the colonial era.
Presence of squatters on arable land
Many African countries are struggling with the issue of settlers and land tenure system. This problem mainly arose because of available land that is not being utilized. For decades, families have used the idle land and turned it into their homes. Some consider the properties theirs, even though they have no land title. The usual argument is, “where has the real owner been all these years?” Some squatters have occupied land for more than 40 years. Some children were born in these properties, and as far as they are concerned, they are the owners. Issues arise when the real owner decides he is ready to start using his land.
The squatters know they are occupying land that is not theirs. However, they have nowhere to go. Of course, there is also the fear of the unknown. Many do not want to risk rejection should they settle elsewhere. Some squatters have won some of the cases that made it to court.
Landlessness in Kenya is a severe deterrent to the growth of the agricultural sector. With a large population relying on agriculture, the private land ownership system is holding the country back. Squatters who find their way into idle land consider it free and available. Unfortunately, most of the settlers can only use the property for subsistence farming. The cannot afford to use technology to boost productivity, while at the same time the landowner cannot use his land because it has illegal occupants.
Communal land tenure
In Nigeria, the communal land tenure system allows the allotment of land for a farming season. The person who has been lucky enough to get the allocation wouldn’t consider technological investment because of the short-term allotment. One is never sure if he will be fortunate the following farming season.
Many African countries face a similar challenge when dealing with land that is collectively owned. Mechanized farming can only be used if the entire community grants permission. Sometimes getting people to appreciate the value of mechanization is an uphill task. Instead of going through this hustle, members of the community would rather rely on the traditional methods of farming for the sake of peace.
It is also difficult to use the land as collateral when seeking financing to invest in technology. The whole community needs to agree for this to happen. It is impossible to convince the entire community to acquire a loan to enrich their livelihood. Some imagine this will lead to the loss of their land making the who process untenable.
Inheritance tenure system
What started as big parcels of land in some families has disintegrated to small pieces that cannot be used for commercial farming. As mentioned earlier, inheritance of property is common practice in Africa. However, this land is not given as it is. To avoid controversy, parents divide the area amongst the children. Unfortunately, the division of property negatively affects the possibility of mechanization. Introduction of technology for agricultural advancement is becoming more difficult because of land fragmentation.
Adoption of technology for agriculture faces so many challenges in Africa. It is essential for the citizens to be educated on ways of overcoming these challenges if Africa is to improve its economy and boost employment of the youth. As things stand now, strides have been made in the investment in technology to improve food security. However, without the support from landowners and changes in the land tenure system, Africa may not attain its developmental goals.