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May 2003

Announcement of a new publication

Good practice guidelines for agricultural leasing arrangements

FAO Land Tenure Studies 2

The leasing of land is a significant element of the environment in which farming operates throughout the world. There are a large variety of such arrangements, from the small-scale labour tenancies and sharecropping agreements common in Africa, Asia and Latin America, to the highly mechanized agricultural tenancies of northern Europe and other OECD areas. While very different in their contexts, all arrangements are characterized by a similar form, involving a separation between the ownership and the use of land.

Leasing offers a means for farming families with little or no land and capital to gain access to land. As such, leasing arrangements are an established part of the fabric of the agricultural sector, often to the extent that their significance has been overlooked, down-played, or misunderstood. Indeed, the continued existence of such arrangements is a matter of concern in regions where they are associated with landownership concentration and imbalances of power in favour of landowners.

Rather than seek to address these structural imbalances through a review of leasing arrangements, some states have attempted to replace them with owner-occupation. However, as this publication illustrates, the promotion of owner-occupation has not necessarily led to the demise of the leasing arrangement, nor to a greater balance of power in farming. Leasing continues to be significant, even where there have been official attempts to replace it. This division between policy and practice is a major characteristic of the agricultural sector even where leasing arrangements are officially sanctioned.

(Also available in French and Spanish)

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