Food Security Requires Land Tenure by Conscientious Farmers

Regions where agroecological (sustainable, diversified) agricultural practices are prolific also score well in number of other SDG measures, including of course # 2 Zero Hunger. But more than no hunger. Diversified agriculture means diversified nutrition. However, land access is a major barrier for agroecological/sustainable farmers globally.

I propose that land access programs could be tied to production that meets local food needs and ecological services through a Usufruct (User Rights) Agricultural system.

A usufruct system grants farmers a guaranteed land lease provided they meet a reasonable production quota of agriculture products and continue to responsibly farm the land. Farmers can sell all surplus products. Globally, examples of usufruct systems have promoted some of the most impressive farms in terms of ecological conservation and climate resilience, while enhancing the diets of local populations. Considering the potential for usufruct systems to meet these challenge and improve rural economies, the model merits closer examination. I propose a private-public partnership, with dedicated research funds to evaluate the program’s efficacy. I seek collaborators, land trust organizations, and local governments willing to implement trial policies and track outcomes.

I have begun preliminary research and writing about this idea while pursuing my Masters of Science/Masters of Public Health at Tufts University, and while working with the Union of Concerned Scientists Food & Environment Program. I dream that some day usufruct stewardship of land would promote equitable land access, and enable the next generation of farmers to be ecological and nutrition/health heroes.