Land Grabbing and the Axis of Political Conflicts: Insights from Southwest Cameroon

Frankline A. Ndi, Simon Batterbury


Large-scale land acquisition (LSLA) by foreign interests is a major driver of agrarian change in the productive regions of Africa. Rural communities across Southwest Cameroon are experiencing a range of political conflicts resulting from LSLA, in which commercial interests are threatening local land-use practices and access to land. This paper shows that the struggle to maintain or redefine livelihoods generates tension between inward competition for and outward contestation of claims to land. In Nguti Subdivision, the scene of protests against a particular agribusiness company, there is continued debate over ideas about, interests in, and perceptions of land and tenure. The authors show how topdown land acquisition marginalises land users, leading to conflicts within communities and with the companies involved, and conclude that for an agro-project to succeed and avoid major conflicts, dominance by elite interests must give way to a more inclusive process.

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