World Food Day: the link between land and food security

Participants in the workshop in Yaoundé

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On World Food Day (October 16th), LandCam organised an workshop to raise awareness on the links between food security and land tenure security. The workshop brought together representatives from different ministries (MINAT, MINADER, MINEPAT, MINDCAF), from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UNHCR, from REPAR, civil society and journalists. RELUFA’s Jaff Napoleon Bamenjo explains to us why these two issues go hand in hand.

 

1- Why a workshop on World Food Day?

RELUFA has always celebrated World Food Day, and 2020 also marks the organisation’s 20th anniversary. Celebrating World Food Day was thus particularly important for us this year, because it marks a milestone in our existence. We are also organizing this event because there are lots of relevant issues currently affecting food security that we should reflect on. We have mentioned a number of important issues during this workshop, such as Internally Displaced Persons, COVID-19, Food Systems and Land.

 2- The theme for this year is: “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions are Our future”. Is it possible for everyone to cultivate the land today in Cameroon?

The answer is no, notably because there are several pockets of conflicts that have driven farmers off of their land, and they are now either refugees or internally displaced. It is worrying because most of these people used to live in rural areas where farming was their principal activity. As internally displaced people or refugees, they have become food beggars instead of food producers. This is a major concern. 

 3- Because of socio-political conflicts in our country today,  there are a lot of people far away from their place of origin. What can be done for them to also have access to land?

A simple answer would be to resolve the conflicts so they can return to their places of origin and continue with their farming activities. In the meantime, as internally displaced people, they might still be able to grow food if they have access to land where they are. It is therefore important to address the topical issue of access to land for internally displaced people, especially with the ongoing revision of the land law. RELUFA is currently working on a study on this issue, which will provide some important contextual information as well as recommendations to strengthen displaced people and refugee’s land rights.

 4- How are issues of access to land and food security linked?  

Having access to land is essential for food production, and especially concerning subsistence farming, for food security. Land being the source of farming practices, it is central for guaranteeing food security. Beyond access to land, it is important for such access to be secured, and that is why the recognition and protection of customary land ownership is very important in Cameroon.

We have also observed that COVID-19 restriction measures have particularly impacted the food security of poor urban households. This situation has undermined the capacity of people to obtain nutritious food to meet their needs. Therefore it is urgent to continue to reflect and conceive ways to make our food systems resilient to such crisis. Cameroon was not spared as COVID-19, in addition to ongoing conflicts in the Anglophone and Far North regions, are exerting a lot of pressure on the food systems. Resolving these conflicts, clarifying terms of access to land for refugees and internally displaced people, strengthening customary collective land rights in rural areas, supporting small-scale agriculture, are all key issuesto guarantee food security in Cameroon.