This article examines the contemporary phenomenon of ‘land grabbing’ in relation to the history of plantation and large- and small-scale farming (pf, lsf and ssf) in sub-Saharan Africa. It looks at the extent of pf and lsf over the 20th century, as well as the policy narratives that have justified, supported or circumscribed their development. Many characteristics of the current land rush and its interpretation reveal elements of continuity with some of the general trends marking the history of pf and lsf up to recent years. In particular, the heterogeneity of pf and lsf, subsuming quite different relations to ssf, and the pivotal role played by the combination of private capital (whether foreign, domestic or combined) with the state represent organisational continuities. Meanwhile continuities in supporting narratives centre on the prevalence of generic prescriptions for either lsf/pf or ssf. Refuting these generic prescriptions is a precondition for more nuanced analysis and policy proposals.
Baglioni, E.; Gibbon, P. Land Grabbing, Large- and Small-scale Farming: what can evidence and policy from 20th century Africa contribute to the debate? Third World Quarterly (2013) 34 (9) 1558-1581. [Special Issue: Global Land Grabs] [DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2013.843838]