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Solutions for landless Comoros farmers

Written by Christiane Grimault Modified on the

How do farmers cope when they have no land? This is a problem faced by a part of the rural population of the Comoros. The country faces land insecurity and many fields have been left abandoned by their owners who fear losing them. To deal with this situation, the National Programme for Sustainable Human Development (PNDHD) has offered a solution that allows farmers to hold property deed and own fields.

At Hamavouna, on the island of Moheli, Hussein Houmadi Mawundra has just lent 2 hectares to severa llandless farmers for a period of 15 years??. Although the owner does not gainany financial benefit, it nevertheless demonstrates his rights as an owner.

This win-win agreement has been made possible thanks to the support of the National Program for Sustainable Human Development (PNDHD), funded by the IFAD, which aims to help small farmers to develop sustainable activities. In the context of its fight against poverty, this program has sought to encourage owners of undeveloped fields to allow them to be used by landless farmers. The land situation in the Comoros is complex : While in theory land belongs to clans, the royal family and former French settlers, farmers today are not always able to justify their rights to occupy plots, resulting in daily disputes. Most home owners do not have a title deed while others produce forged papers. This legal dilemma affects agricultural production as farmers are often evicted from land at the owners’ whim. Finally, with high notary fees and taxes, most landowners cannot seek to have their land rights officially recognized.

It is in this context that the PNDHD wants to provide more security for both owners and farmers. "We helped a landowner get the papers that would have cost him a lot of money, while farmers are protected from expulsion by the owner for the next 15 years," says notary Mohamed Assoumani, consultant to the PNDHD. The PNDHD hopes that this type of agreement will spread beyond Hamavouna and thus help to givea boost to agriculture in the Comoros. Note that a "sectoral landcommission" was established to arbitrate any disputes. It will follow the implementation of the Hamavouna agreement and will also deal with other areas of the island.

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