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Interplay of land governance and large-scale agricultural investment: evidence from Ghana and Kenya*

  • Kerstin Nolte (a1) and Susanne Johanna Väth (a2)


This comparative analysis examines how large-scale agricultural land acquisitions are implemented in Ghana and Kenya, using embedded case studies of two specific investment projects. We find that insufficiencies in these countries' land governance systems are partly caused by discrepancies between de jure and de facto procedures and that powerful actors tend to operate in the legal grey areas. These actors determine the implementation of projects to a large extent. Displacement and compensation are highly emotive issues that exacerbate tensions around the investment. We also find that large-scale land acquisitions have a feedback effect on the land governance system, which suggests that large-scale land acquisitions can be drivers of institutional change. We suggest there may be a window of opportunity here to reform these land governance systems.


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We would like to thank the people and organisations who supported our research: David Okeyo, Caren Akumu, Baba Adam and Eric Johnson, for help with the focus group discussions; the Ghana Market-oriented Agriculture Programme (MOAP), a joint programme of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture of the Republic of Ghana (MOFA), for financial and logistical support; the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (Germany), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (Germany), and the sector project ‘Land Policy and Land Management’, a planning unit of the German Agency for International Co-operation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ), for financial support; Di Kilpert for editing; and Michael Kirk, Jann Lay, Simone Gobien and Thomas Falk, for valuable comments on the paper. Any shortcomings are of course ours.



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