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Land governance and inclusive business in agriculture: advancing the debate

Research report

Written by Anna Locke

Research report

There is growing business interest in investing in agriculture in low- and middle-income countries, just as several governments are looking to attract foreign investment to promote economic development. Concerns that investments might displace small-scale producers have raised questions about how to structure businesses in inclusive ways so as to promote equitable and sustainable development in rural areas.

This report reviews the state of the global debate on inclusiveness in agricultural investments and analyses what ‘inclusiveness’ means to different value chain actors. The report gathers a broad cross-section of opinion and finds fairly widespread agreement on some key features of inclusiveness that require progress, but also significant divergence on what those features mean in practice, on levels of ambition and on how to deliver change. The areas of agreement are distilled into ‘five pillars of inclusive business’ that are tested against three crop-specific case studies to evaluate the inclusiveness of existing value chains for each pillar.

The report takes stock of the global debate, exploring how diverse stakeholders perceive inclusive business, and highlights areas of disagreement and emerging consensus. It also explores the factors that influence inclusiveness in business relations, focusing on opportunities and constraints in different types of value chains. Due to the close connection between land governance and inclusive investment in agriculture, the report pays particular attention to ways forward for the land governance agenda.

Laura German, Lorenzo Cotula, Katie Gibson, Anna Locke, Anya Bonanno and Julian Quan