Land fragmentation is sometimes argued as one reason for impeded smallholder productivity. In theory, systematic land consolidation could be applied to enhance farm structures, improve delivery of service infrastructure (e.g. road and energy networks), and ultimately increase farmer productivity. These claims are backed up by the experiences of Western European countries. But, are these programs relevant to other country contexts (e.g. sub Saharan Africa)? Certainly, there are substantial social, economic, and environmental differences that are already well known. Recent work undertaken in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, conducted by ITC Faculty (University of Twente), again revealed how smallholders prefer their plots to be geographically spread: land fragmentation acts as a risk management strategy against crop failure or natural disasters. It also needs to be remembered that prior to undertaking modern systematic land consolidation activities, countries like the Netherlands already possessed both regularized tenure systems, and the land information needed to support the process. Many country contexts neither possess nor maintain complete land tenure records.
It is unclear what role, if any, land consolidation can play in the short and longer term. If there is a role, it needs to be determined whether existing approaches can be responsibly applied, or whether new context-specific thinking and tools are needed? In this regards, the expertise of the Netherlands in developing and applying innovative land consolidation techniques, coupled with the interest in responsible global agricultural investment, might play a leading role.
Dutch Food Security Policy Consultation, Target 4: 'How can the Netherlands most effectively contribute to achieving the target 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income?'
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