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Reference Source – Women in Agriculture in Uganda

Covert land dispossession is when people are actually not moved off their land, but are conned into offering their land rent free, in order to grow a particular crop, in order to supply the harvest from the crop to ‘investors’. Smallholder farmers, de facto, become labourers on their own land.

At the same time smallholder farmers take the burden of the risks of crop failure, due to inappropriate weather, among others. Case in point, Teso smallholder farmers were manipulated into diverting their land to grow Epuripur sorghum under the pretext that it was for their own good.

The main real objective for Epuripur sorghum was so that Nile Breweries would have access to cheap raw materials for brewing beer. The role of smallholder farmers was to use their land rent free (as in Nile Breweries did not rent the land) and to grow Epuripur sorghum, in order to supply it to Nile Breweries.

Covert land grabbing, in addition, is in the form of that which re-defines land uses intra-homestead. This means that the more powerful members of a homestead, likely the men, may grab land off of other members of their homestead and re-allocate it to the production of a ‘modern crop’.

There are indications that covert land grabbing was indeed triggered in Teso by Nile Breweries’ Epuripur sorghum. An Expert (2016) explained:

“I can say that Epuripur had a 70 percent effect of destabilising the balance – causing disruption of social systems in Teso. The experience of Epuripur between men and women differs. For the men they are happy because it brought cash; for the women they are not happy for it brought the trouble of not being able to eat it as atap.”

One need not be a rocket scientist to deduce that as was the case of cotton in the 1920s Iteso women have experienced official violence for the “matrimonial offence” of refusing or resisting covert land dispossession by their men re-allocating land to Epuripur sorghum; and or refusing or resisting to be the labourers in their men’s Epuripur sorghum enterprises.

In its Section 4.7 Commercialisation of Food (pages 31-37) a “Policy Report on Agriculture in Uganda – a cultural anthropological perspective” contains a detailed analysis of how unfair trade practices and economic injustices against Ugandan women sustain in Uganda’s policy and practice. The full report is available here.



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