Accepted paper:

Coming to/Coming from/Coming back to - Ngenge (Eastern Uganda): land dynamics in a de-marginalizing area


Manoel Auffray (Université Bordeaux Montaigne)

Paper short abstract:

Scarcely populated on the border of Mount Elgon saturated rural land, Ngenge subcounty attracts a increasing number of external actors. Interests and representations compete to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.

Paper long abstract:

Large scale agricultural investments carry a heavy historical and symbolic weight. The impact on sub-Saharan peasant communities has been already extensively criticized. In this presentation, far from contesting this work we focus on the local strategies to make the best out of this situations. We argue that winner and losers from the recomposition of rural areas are not as foreseeable as they seem.

The subcounty of Ngenge is located in eastern Uganda, between the heavily populated Mount Elgon and the agro-pastoralist Karamoja. For decades it was almost deserted by its population due to insecurity and relentless cattle rustling. In the 2000s, the returning population was followed by a wide range of external investors. Medium/large scale land transactions were completed and directed to the production of food stuffs (sunflowers, sesame, sorghum…) for international markets. In the meantime, an increasing number of farmers coming mostly from the neighboring mount Elgon (Sebei and Bagisu), engaged in rice and horticulture in the wettest part of the area. Ngenge is still scarcely populated but attracts a growing number of people and land prices are exploding. While being outside of the major east African agricultural development corridors, Ngenge provides original insights on the consequences of external agricultural investments on the control of resources by local population. Complex strategies are developed to take advantage of the fast-changing context. The stakes of this processes are indeed very high, especially for the originally displaced population.

panel Econ21
Integration of peasantry into the global market: inconspicuous connections and opportunities on the fringes of large-scale investments