Typology and Evolution of Production, Distribution and Consumption Systems | 17

land rights of the community. The form of land tenure and the system of access rights in SSA became one of the most important issues related to land and the management of other natural resources. These policies had a direct effect on people’s security and on their investment in soil and water management, which in turn affected productivity and land quality. Even where colonial governments pledged to respect existing customs, they encouraged a modicum of economic development that diverted some land to new uses and by stimulating an appetite for imported goods that could be met only by the exploitation of land in cash cropping (Pottier, 2005). The introduction of cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, tea, coffee, groundnuts, etc., during the colonial period, have resulted in the diffusion of modern, sedentary and commercial land use practices from European settler farmers to African farmers who started producing for the cash market. Settler colonial land expropriation varied in SSA. It was most extensive in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia, and occurred to a lesser extent in Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia (Moyo, 2005).

Access to land as well as the rights to its use is institutionalized by custom laws or national regulations. The conditions for the allocation of rights in traditional systems changes over time. They are the result of negotiations (e.g., between family groups with different interests) and conflicts (between agriculturalists and pastoralists) arising from new conditions such as: the introduction of new technologies; and the inclusion of actors such as the state or projects which enter a claim to resources (Kirk, 1996). In most SSA countries, men and women farmers do not have equal access to adequate land and the access of women is even more limited due to cultural, traditional and sociological factors. However, in most African societies women traditionally had use rights to land (Pala, 1976). The complex social and political contradictions of colonial and post-independence land policies have increasingly derogated the land rights of the poor, fuelling popular demands for land reforms (Moyo and Yeros, 2005). In Zimbabwe, land reforms led to a loss of land for women (Pankhurst and Jacobs, 1988). The marginalization of women in the allocation of irrigated rice fields to men in the Gambia adversely affected rice production and gender relations and also culminated in the failure of the project (Dey, 1981; Carney, 1988).

Despite the role of women as the backbone of food production in SSA, women are faced with many factors constraining their effective participation in achieving food security. Frequently, land of poorer quality or in unfavorable sites is allocated to women. In some parts of Nigeria, for example, women have restricted access to land, causing a major constraint (Ukeje, 2004). In the majority of patrilineal arrangements, the right to land expires automatically in the case of divorce or death of the husband. In Burundi for example, under customary law, women could not own or inherit land, they could only enjoy limited access bestowed through affiliation to the male legatees (Kamuni et al., 2005). In Sahelian countries Islam has opened an opportunity for women to access land through the right of inheritance (Kirk, 1996), as is the case in Senegal and Mali. Without land, women have no security and have to depend on land owners for employment.


          A number of SSA land tenure systems have been identified (White, 1959). They included societies in which an individual obtains land rights by residence, without allocation through a hierarchy of estates (this was the most prevalent type of land tenure in pre-colonial period); land holding under the control of lineages where access to agricultural land was exclusively reserved for use by members who traced their heritage from a common ancestry (in Zambia, Ethiopia, etc.); societies in which Chiefs exercised direct control over allocation of land with a descending hierarchy of estate (example of the Mossi empire in Burkina Faso); feudal systems with landlords and tenants (some parts in Uganda, in Ethiopia) and the individualized land tenure under commercial production (appearing during the colonial period in most part of SSA).

Land use in SSA has evolved over time, from uses involving extensive tracts of land to more permanent land use types. In the same way, land tenure has also evolved from communal types to those in which individual land rights are more clearly expressed and even enshrined in law, such as under titling programs in countries like Kenya (Birgegard, 1993). The subsistence or shifting forms of land use and the communal forms of land tenure remain in practice in sparsely populated areas. Inadequate land tenure structures are still a major obstacle to sustainable agriculture and rural development in many countries. In particular, women’s access to land remains an unresolved issue in a number of cases. Soil management
Traditional and rudimentary technologies consisting mainly of hoe and cutlass were the main land preparation systems in the pre-colonial era in SSA. These systems continued during colonial, independence and post-independence periods as the majority of farmers are still smallholder farmers. Slash and burn practices contributed to maintaining soil fertility. Colonial administration brought agricultural machinery consisting primarily of tractors and animal traction. Sloping terrain does not permit the use of modern technology and where possible, poverty seems to be the primary reason for low application of modern technologies. In most SSA countries today, farming activities are carried out mainly with traditional and rudimentary technologies. For every 100 ha of arable land, only one tractor is available in Rwanda compared to 175 in Botswana or 20 in Tanzania for (Musahara and Huggins, 2005). It is estimated that there are about 10,000 tractors in Nigeria, out of which 50.5% are broken down. Nigeria’s tractors have been calculated to operate at 0.03 horsepower per hectare compared with FAO recommended tractor’s density of 1.5 horsepower per hectare (Ukeje, 2004). Fertilizer tends to be used mostly on cash crop and plantation crops because of the high profitability of fertilizers in the production of export or high value crops. Synthetic fertilizer consumption grew at an annual rate of 4% from 1961 to 2002, but growth rates declined from about 6% between 1961 and 1989 to only 1.3% from 1990 to 2002. These figures mask a great deal of variability among SSA countries. For example, from 1998 to 2002, four countries accounted for 62.5% of all SSA fertilizer consumption: South Africa (38.8%); Nigeria (8.7%); Zimbabwe (7.6%); and Ethiopia (7.4%) (Ukeje,