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Conference Report: Agricultural investment, gender and land in Africa - Towards inclusive, equitable and socially responsible investment

by Ruth Hall, Martha Osorio in 2014

The last few years have witnessed a dramatically renewed interest in Africa’s farmland, and the role of agricultural development has become more prominent in national and international agendas. As a result, many developing countries are making vigorous efforts to attract and facilitate foreign and domestic private investment in agriculture, with the expectation that such investment will contribute to production growth, poverty reduction and food security, while at the same time providing developmental benefits through technology transfer, employment creation, access to markets and infrastructure development.

However, recent research has highlighted that investment does not necessarily produce positive outcomes. Rather, the outcomes depend on many factors, including the prevailing agricultural and rural development model; the institutional, policy and regulatory framework in place; the type and degree of inclusiveness of the business models adopted; and the extent to which social relations and gender equity issues are considered, among others.

The conference was intended to promote an open exchange of experiences and evidence-based knowledge on the implications of agricultural investments for rural livelihoods, gender relations and social differentiation. The purpose was to build a common understanding of why it is important to take gender into account when dealing with agricultural investments, what this means, and which are critical criteria in terms of investment initiatives, practices, business models and policies and laws that need to be put in place. All this knowledge is needed if actors are to foster inclusive and socially responsible investment that respects the rights of local communities and promotes economic growth within a framework of social and gender equality.