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Land concentration, cause of social conflict and underdevelopment

Land concentration, cause of social conflict and underdevelopment

By Sergio Ferrari

The issue of land concentration, together with the reflection on the impact of agrarian reforms in the region, was the central theme of the High-level Meeting on “Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in Latin America and the Caribbean ”, held in Santiago de Chile during the first week of April.

The Latin American and Caribbean region has the most unequal land distribution in the world. FAO highlighted that this distribution is even more unequal in South America, while in Central America it is slightly lower.

The region has the most unequal distribution of land on the planet: the Gini coefficient - which measures inequality - applied to the distribution of land on the continent reaches 0.79, widely exceeding Europe (0.57), Africa (0.56) and Asia (0.55).

The UN body argues that better managing land rights, as well as access to forests and fishing is essential to reduce poverty in rural areas and protect natural resources. And he called for better recognition of tenure rights.

Improving the recognition of land tenure rights and their distribution is a necessary step to eradicate hunger and advance towards the Sustainable Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean, stressed the FAO in Santiago de Chile.

Another significant problem, according to the UN organization: the percentage of land in the hands of small owners is decreasing. A phenomenon that conspires, in particular, against women. In Guatemala, for example, only 8% of women own property. In Peru, only 31%. In most cases, these properties are of less size and quality than those owned by men.

At the end of last year, OXFAM published “Exiles: Land, Power and Inequality in Latin America”, one of the most complete reports to date on the agrarian situation of the continent. It centralizes its analysis in 17 Latin American countries.

“1% of the farms monopolize more than half of the productive surface. That is, this 1% concentrates more land than the remaining 99%. This situation does not offer a path to sustainable development, neither for the countries nor for the populations ”, indicates the NGO report, now taken up by FAO.

Economic and social inequality is one of the biggest burdens that prevent Latin American societies from achieving sustainable development and is an obstacle to their economic growth. “In the region, 32 privileged people accumulate the same wealth as the 300 million poorest people. This economic inequality is closely related to land ownership, since non-financial assets represent 64% of total wealth ”, OXFAM emphasizes.

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