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Land Reform

Land reform (sometimes referred to as agrarian reform) refers to the redrawing of land boundaries, based on the redistribution of land – usually the government initiated or government-backed redistribution of agricultural land. These changes may be for social reasons, such as the transfer of ownership of cultivated, fertile land, held by a small number of powerful landowners and elites, to the less powerful in order to reduce violence, improve justice, equity, greater food security, income and family welfare; or the transfer of land from individual ownership to collective farms. The common characteristic of all land reforms, however, is the modification or replacement of existing institutional arrangements governing possession and use of land that are designed to improve agricultural performance and notably to contribute to the process of economic growth and economic development.

Land reforms must be implemented when land holdings become either too small (‘minifundio’) or too big (‘latifundio’) to be economically viable. Both fragmentation and land consolidation occur over time by inheritance or other forms of (legal or illegal) land acquisition (e.g. purchases, dispossession). In the EastAgri region, land holdings have changed in both directions: (i) fragmentation by dividing former Sovkhozes and Kolkhozes among villagers into small parcels, and (ii) consolidation by transferring farm property rights to a small elite.

In most programs, including those in Western Europe in the 1950’s, land reform takes place without cash payment, but rather by interchanging land parcels. To ensure that the parcels have the same value, a point-system is implemented. Lands with equal points, have the same value. These valuation systems always include: 1. size of the parcel, 2. soil fertility, 3. access to water, and 4. access to roads. They may include other aspects like fencing, sloping, buildings, etc. The valuation must be transparent and ensured by independent institutions and a State Cadastre.

Read more in Land Reform and Land Tenure below.

Related meetings and workshops

  • Study tour on mountain areas and natual parks management, June 2010

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