Large Scale Land Deals, Global Capital and the Politics of Livelihoods: Experiences of Women Small-Holder Farmers in Chisumbanje, Zimbabwe


Mutopo, Patience, and Manase Chiweshe. 2012. “Large Scale Land Deals, Global Capital and the Politics of Livelihoods: Experiences of Women Small-Holder Farmers in Chisumbanje, Zimbabwe.” Paper presented at the International Conference on Global Land Grabbing II, Ithaca, NY, October 17-19.

Authors: Patience Mutopo, Manase Chiweshe


Large scale land acquisitions by foreign conglomerates in Zimbabwe have been a recurrent phenomenon within the last five years. This has led to land deals being negotiated with state, individual and nongovernmental actors, leading to the production of agro fuels. We investigate how the large scale commercial land deals have affected the livelihoods of women small holder farmers, the role of global capital in entrenching discrimination of women and how the politics of resource use and distribution has become a central force in shaping livelihoods in Zimbabwe's communal areas. The paper is based on field work that was conducted in Ndowoyo communal area, in Chisumbanje village, from July 2011 until April 2012. The methods used for collecting data were, in-depth interviews with the women, interviews with officials from Platform for Youth Development a nongovernmental organization, Macdom Pvt Ltd and Ratings Investments, Focus Group Discussions and personal observations that involved interactions with the women. In 2011 Macdom Pvt Ltd and Ratings Investments, bio fuels companies owned by Billy Rautenbauch started green fuel production operations in Chisumbanje and this has led to the altering of the livelihoods systems of women smallholder farmers. Firstly we seek to demonstrate how the company's green fuel production systems have led to the loss of land for women and the redefinition of tenure in a communal area. Secondly we explore how the company has been involved in political issues that undermined the role of development for the women and thirdly we investigate how the women have created and curved livelihood alternatives in an area which has been transformed from a communal rural area to almost an urban area. We conclude by suggesting the need to further give primacy to women centered notions of agency in coping with the negative implications of commercial land deals on women`s livelihoods.

Keywords: large scale, land deals, women livelihood, politics, agency, agro fuels

Topics: Development, Economies, Gender, Women, Land Tenure, Land Grabbing, Livelihoods, NGOs, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 2012

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