West Africa Landbank is a cooperative movement founded in the West Africa with the intention to advocate
sustainable land transactions to the benefit of poor landowners, and in the same time protect the interest of lessees/investors.
Acquisitions of farmland in Africa have become the focus of international investors for speculations. Many deals are stimulated by
food security concerns, especially those coming from wealthier countries with land and water constraints. High food prices and
policy-induced supply shocks evidently created fears that dependence on world markets to satisfy domestic demand has become risky.
However, investments is good news if the objectives of land lessees are reconciled with the investment needs of developing countries.
In some parts of Africa deals seem to have been settled between investors and governments in host countries, with little concern
for whether benefits would trickle down to the local population. International investors should recognize the local consequences
of their investments and consider labor, social and environmental standards; stakeholder involvement; and food security concerns –
not because they are obliged to do so, but because it minimizes their investment risks. Insufficient documentation of smallholders’
rights prevented them from making any claims. While much land in developing countries is currently not fully utilized, apparently
‘surplus’ land does not mean that it is unused or unoccupied. Better systems to recognize land rights are urgently needed. Similarly,
governments should try to avoid that investments create enclaves of advanced agriculture that are detached from local realities.
These will do little to improve smallholder production or generate additional incomes and employment opportunities.
WAL promotes the vision that lease-land should be validated at a minimum of $4.00/acre per year, but rather plus. Nowadays land in East Africa
is leased at $2.00/ha and this is way too low. If developers do not have sufficient land in their own home countries in Asia,
Europe or USA, they should pay a fair price to Africa and not a try to rip land for alms. Please take in mind that purchase prices
of land in Europe varies between $2,500 up to $65,000/ha. There are land fund in the UK who pay $300 to $500/ha for farmland in Zambia
about a tenth the price of farmland in Europe or the United States. Some dreamers still think they can buy land in Africa for max $1,000/ha.
That should become an illusion, the same as ridiculous low lease-prices of $2/ha.
As the “run for land” will dramatically increase in the coming years, its now time to act with fair rates to secure the future of Africa
and guarantee long term prosperity for all parties involved, including Africa.