Analysis of Land Grabbing and Implications for Sustainable Livelihood: A Case Study of Local Government Areas in Nigeria

Christopher Emenyonu, Aloysius Nwosu, Henry Ikenna Eririogu, Maryann Nnenna Osuji, Onyekachi Umeadi Ejike, Clifford Chilasa Agbaeze


Land grabbing and high-risk large scale land investments exploit the livelihood source of local resource users. One common trend among governments promoting land grabs has been the theme ‘development promotion’ and touting the benefits of agricultural development, job creation, increased cash crop and livestock production, and infrastructure provision as drivers towards economic development and eventual modernization. As a result, this study analysed land grabbing and its implications for sustainable livelihood in Owerri Municipal and Owerri West Local Government Areas of Imo State, Nigeria. These two LGAs have witnessed dispossession of ancestral lands for farming which were hitherto their main means of sustenance. Purposive sampling technique was employed for the study in order to ensure that it is only the real owners of the dispossessed lands were used in the study given the nature of land ownership in the state. Primary data were sourced through the use of structured questionnaire, while the secondary information were obtained from the repositories of international organizations such as GRAIN, FAO, World Bank etc. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, bivariate analytical model and Ordinary Least Square multiple regression model. The results showed that majority (76%) of the owners of the dispossessed lands were males, this gives an indication of land ownership rights in Nigeria. The mean household size of dispossessed families was 5 persons. About 58% of dispossessed land owners inherited their lands, and were full time farmers, indicating that farming is the major source of livelihood in the area. It was found that the lands were grabbed by the government via “legal” means (62%) through the land use act of 1978, while 38% of the lands were grabbed by private investors and other wealthy individuals who were connected to the government in power. The mean land size owned by the farmers before land grabbing was 1.8 hectares; while the mean land size grabbed was 1.9 hectares implying that more land areas than those used for farming were grabbed and thus leading to larger dispossessions; the mean land size available to farmers after land grabbing was 0.8 hectares. The grabbed lands were converted to built-up lands especially hotels and other constructions on land (74%), while 26% of the lands were used for other non agricultural establishments. The results also showed that decrease in land size available to the farmers due to increased land grabbing by one meter square, decreases the value of food crop produced, and hence decreases food-driven investments by N622.81k in the area thus leading to reduced food production and undermined the livelihood activities in the areas. The study recommended that compensatory lands should be released to the farmers and incentives granted to facilitate improvement in food crop production in the local government areas.

Keywords: Land grabbing, Food production, Poverty ties, Sustainable livelihood, land investments.

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