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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - LDPI Working Paper
Title Consolidating land, consolidating control
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL http://www.plaas.org.za/sites/default/files/publications-landpdf/LDPI16Huggins.pdf
Land-scarce Rwanda is an unlikely place in which to find ‘land grabbing’. However, an ongoing legal,
institutional and financial re-configuration of the agricultural sector in Rwanda facilitates increased
penetration of rural smallholder farming systems by Rwandan and international capital which may
include some large-scale ‘land grabbing’ by foreign corporations. More often, foreign agricultural
investment in Rwanda is likely to take the form of involvement in contract farming arrangements
with cooperatives. Such contracts are facilitated by the state, which when necessary uses coercive
mechanisms as well as highly interventionist strategies (such as regional crop specialization policies
and mandatory land use consolidation)to create an ‘enabling environment’ for agricultural
investment. The Rwandan government has adapted neo-liberal tools, such as ‘performance
management contracts’, through which it makes local public administrators accountable for
agricultural ‘development’ targets, which are often explicitly linked to corporate interests.
Philanthropic activities by international development agencies are also often intertwined with the
activities of the state and foreign capital, so that a variety of actors and objectives are collaboratively
changing the relations between land and labour, and exposing smallholder farmers to regional and
global markets. Such processes suggest that the global ‘land grab’ is only one aspect of broader
patterns of reconfiguration of control over land and labour in the Global South, and that critical
attention should be paid to various modes of ‘agricultural investment’, not just acquisition of large
areas of land.

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