Agricultural and Rural Development Notes

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This series on commodity risk management aims to disseminate the results of World Bank research that describes the feasibility of developing countries’ ability to utilize market-based tools to mitigate risks associated with commodity price volatility and weather.

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Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant : Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond

2009-06, Morris, Michael

Stimulating agricultural growth is critical to reducing poverty in Africa. Commercial agriculture, potentially a powerful driver of agricultural growth, can develop along a number of pathways. Yet many developing regions have failed to progress very far along any of these pathways. Particularly in Africa, agriculture continues to lag. During the past 30 years the competitiveness of many African export crops has declined, and Africa's dependence on imported food crops has increased. While the poor performance of African agriculture can be attributed partly to adverse agroecological conditions, experience from elsewhere in the developing world suggests that significant progress is possible. The Guinea Savannah covers some 600 million hectares in Africa, of which about 400 million can be used for agriculture. Less than ten percent of this area is currently cropped, making it one of the largest underused agricultural land reserves in the world.

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China : Integrated Land Policy Reform in a Context of Rapid Urbanization

2008-02, Guo, Li, Lindsay, Jonathan, Munro-Faure, Paul

This report is about integrated land policy reform in context of rapid urbanization in China. Over the past thirty years, China has undergone a profound economic and social transformation as it moves towards a market-oriented economy. Land issues are implicated in this ongoing transformation in numerous ways. The allocation and security of land rights are key factors in China's quest for economic growth and social stability. Land use choices influence the shape and sustainability of China's rapidly growing cities, as well as the future prospects of its agriculture. Revenue generated from land plays a critical role in local government finances and affects the relationship between different levels of government. And increasingly, the growth and stability of the financial sector are linked to land-based transactions and financing arrangements. For the last four years, the Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC) and the World Bank have been working together to develop a deeper understanding of the role of land policy in China, and to identify options for moving forward on key land-related problems and opportunities. The spectacular growth of cities has been one of the most prominent features of China's recent history. From 1980 to 2005, the urban population grew from 19.4 percent to 43.0 percent. Urban growth has also been spatially dramatic, with the accelerating lateral expansion of cities resulting in the rapid conversion of agricultural land. The urban-rural interface defines an arena that is ideal for examining the complex interplay of all of China's most pressing land issues, including those of special relevance to the agricultural sector.

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Addressing Unequal Economic Opportunities : A Case Study of Land Tenure in Ghana

2006-09, World Bank

The author examine this relationship in the context of agriculture in Ghana's Eastern Region. Our work traces the connection from a set of complex and explicitly negotiable property rights over land to agricultural investment and, in turn, to agricultural productivity. Using survey and focus group data, we find that while the land tenure institutions may have some benefits, they result in drastically lower productivity for those not connected to the political hierarchy. This paper discusses the following topics: land transactions and land rights, land tenure is a political process, and a safety net of sorts.

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Foreign Investment in Agricultural Production : Opportunities and Challenges

2009-01, Songwe, Vera, Deininger, Klaus

The recent surge in food and fuel prices has prompted countries with high dependence on food imports to try and lock in future food supplies through direct investment in agricultural production in other countries. The price surges also led to a wave of proposals to invest in biofuels investments in agricultural land. While such investment can provide large benefits, it also carries considerable risks both to investors and citizens in the locality of the investment. To ensure that investments provide broad benefits and effectively contribute to larger development outcomes, enforceable property rights and contractual agreements in many developing countries need to be strengthened. This note considers how development partners can help countries create the pre-conditions for investment and proposes a governance framework to establish minimum standards for it.

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Armenia : Title Registration Project

2008-02, Adlington, Gavin, Saxen, Anu

This approach resulted in the fragmentation of agricultural holdings, with families owning noncontiguous plots. Land use was inefficient, owing in part to the low rate of use of agricultural machinery. Making land use and farming more efficient will require the establishment of a functioning land market. Granting farmers the right to sell, exchange, and lease their land will enable them to use it as collateral and to consolidate family plots. The overall aim of the Armenia Title Registration Project was to promote private sector development by implementing a transparent, parcel-based, easily accessible, and reliable registration system for land and other immovable property. The system was to provide a chronological record of property owners and their rights and obligations. The availability of this information was expected to reduce the transaction costs of title transfers and mortgage financing and lead to more secure property rights for parcels registered in the system. This in turn was expected to lead to higher land and real estate value, increased productivity, and the consolidation of fragmented rural land ownership. Increased use of property as collateral was expected to bring about general improvement in the efficiency of rural and urban real estate markets. The project was also intended to promote least-cost registration procedures by building on existing property information databases (adding only market-relevant information to these databases), and by contracting private surveyors.

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Kyrgyz Republic : Benefits of Securing and Registering Land for Development

2008-02, Cook, Edward

The project initially focused on building upon the 1998 Registration Law to develop registration procedures, and on getting the Legislative Reform Office (LROs) up and running. Cost, affordability, and quality of services were important considerations. The Project benefited from the country's high education levels and relatively low labor costs. Since independence in 1991, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic has sought to promote market reform. An important part of this reform is a program to privatize land and secure property rights in land and other immovable property. Prior to independence, all land was state property, with use rights granted to occupants. Most commercial buildings and structures were, likewise, state property. Rights to residential properties were presumed to be held by occupants, but there was no clear legal support or guarantee to these rights. The large majority of agricultural land was farmed collectively. Workers on these state and collective farms were allocated small household plots for their own production. The most essential success factor for the Project has been the continuity and strength of government commitment. Without the strength of leadership in the implementing agency, as well as the quality and extent of skills brought to oversee project implementation, none of the successes that have been achieved would have been possible.

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Grants for Income Generation

2006-11, Ritchie, Anne

Communities supported by World Bank rural development projects often cite support for the development of income-generating activities (IGAs) as a critical need. This note identifies some of the core problems encountered by Bank task teams that attempt to respond to this need, outlines the issues involved, and offers suggestions on some of the points that should be kept in mind when designing grant programs for this purpose. Specifically, this note looks at how grants can develop economic and social infrastructure, how grants can be used to acquire privately owned productive assets, and suggestions on designing such types of grants. The paper concludes with ideas on the role for grants for income generation, and how such grant programs must be carefully designed and monitored.