On the initiative of the French associative network AFDI (French Farmers and International Development), the second Franco-African meetings took place in early October, it was an opportunity for participants to address the impact of land issues on the evolution of farmers in the north and south.
For Robert Levesque of the national federation of companies for Land Development and Rural Organization (SAFER - Sociétés d’Aménagement Foncier et d’Etablissement Rural), "the race for natural hectares will result in a concentration of the best arable land between private companies or foreign governments that capture a significant proportion of agricultural value-added and production at the expense of local populations". According to him, between 2008 and 2010, in Africa or in Eastern Europe, 20 million hectares of agricultural land, the equivalent of 70% of the total French agricultural land mass came under the control of investors, leading entrepreneurs, pension funds, or foreign state companies.
The issue of agricultural land has become a major issue, both in the north and the south. Yet it is still rarely addressed in international discussions as it sits at the crossroads1 of issues addressed by international institutions such as WTO, the World Bank for development, the FAO for food security or UNEP for the environment.
Robert Levesque's idea of "an international agency to manage natural, agricultural and forestry areas" is therefore very important. Indeed, we will be unable to meet the food challenges of tomorrow if land issues are not broadly addressed and managed at an international level, in order to preserve agricultural land and the balance between the different functions of these areas, but also to guarantee access to land by local farmers.
1 But not explicitly in the mandates