An Investigation of the Political Economy of Land Grabs in Malawi: The Case of Kasinthula Cane Growers Limited (KCGL)

"This study aims to understand the nature of land grabs in Malawi and their implications on food security. It employs a political economy theoretical framework in the quest to establish different underlying interests held by different actors and how these interests are pushed into policy documents using networks, narratives, and institutions. Taking Kasinthula Cane Growers Limited as a case study, this paper establishes that land grabs in the current wave involve direct and indirect means of acquiring land, including contract farming, outgrower schemes, co-management, Premium Fairtrade, and shareholding. The case of Kasinthula Cane Growers Limited confirms that land deals largely ignore the local context which poses a threat to food security and livelihoods of local community members. Dangerous assumptions have been made in defining marginal land at Kasinthula Cane Growers Limited — bearing in mind that land which is ‘marginal’ to one person is a vital resource to another. This paper invites policymakers to engage in a political economy analysis of land deals on offer if they are to avoid the negative repercussions of land grabs while pushing their immediate and strategic interests."