In June and July 2020, Angel Zorilla researched the linkages of land governance, land tenure security, food security, and nutrition. The research provided the basis for her post-graduate dissertation for the Master of Public Health and International Development (MPHID) programme at The University of Sheffield. This was developed in collaboration with the ILC Secretariat in the framework of the ILC internship programme. Due to Covid-19, the study was done remotely.
The purpose of the research was to understand how land governance (LG) and land tenure security (LTS) contribute to food security and nutrition (FSN) and, consequently, address issues of hunger and malnutrition. LG and LTS are known instruments to improve FSN; however, there is no clear understanding of how these concepts relate to each other within country-contexts. The research sought to answer the following questions:
- What are the linkages between LG and LTS activities and its perceived outputs, outcomes, and impacts on FSN?
- What are the possible contextual factors (laws and policies) that shape the LG, LTS, and FSN linkage?
The research was guided by the LTS Theory of Change (TOC) established from a systematic review on “Investigating the impacts of increased rural LTS” by Higgins, et. al (2018). With Higgins’ et. al (2018) LTS TOC as the main framework and complemented by two other systematic reviews by Holden & Ghebru’s (2016) “Land Tenure Reforms, Tenure Security and Food Security in Poor Agrarian Economies” and Lawry’s et al. (2014) “The impact of land property rights interventions on investment and agricultural productivity in developing countries”, a modified TOC was created for this research which served as the theoretical framework of the study.
A thematic analysis of documents was entailed to identify the themes and to develop an understanding of the relationships of LG, LTS and FSN concepts. Documents included in the analysis were: case studies from ANGOC and ILC, journals focusing on the rural poor, comprehensive studies discussing LG, LTS, and FSN, selective studies that are land-specific and FSN-specific, and relevant Philippine land and FS laws and policies to provide robust evidence.
Guided by the modified TOC, Figure 1 below shows the TOC for LG, LTS, and FSN in the rural Philippines that resulted from the thematic analysis.
The key findings sought to bridge the gap in the linkages between LG, LTS, and FSN. LG and LTS interventions were found to link to FSN through nutrition-sensitive agricultural outcomes or interventions that make use of the land as a resource. These linkages, known as nutrition-sensitive agricultural outcomes, are the direct links of LG and LTS to FSN and were found to improve FSN by addressing food access, availability and utilisation, three out of the four dimensions of FS. From an LG perspective, these are considered nutrition-sensitive agricultural outcomes while from an FS perspective, these are viewed as nutrition-sensitive agricultural interventions to improve FSN. Evidence also showed that women’s participation in agricultural practices and decisions exhibits a tighter link in food production and FSN.
LG and LTS outcomes and impacts
Evidence showed that LTS results in improved agricultural investment, increased access to credit, and enhanced farm efficiency that results in increased agricultural productivity both for home and market consumptions. LTS also increase land access and size which have been found to have a direct impact on agricultural production and food intake quantity (Ravanera, 2017; Koirala, et al., 2016; ANGOC, 2017). The access, control, and utilisation of the land could provide food and the means to provide food. Agricultural production from farming could be a direct food source for household consumption while income from agricultural produce sold for market consumption could be an indirect food source. Both direct and indirect sources improve food access and availability for the household.
Land tenure security increases land access and size which have been found to have a direct impact on agricultural production and food intake quantity.
Perception of tenure and food security
LTS has been shown to impact FS and enhance the perception of FS as evidenced in the studies. The overall perception of FS directly relates to the tenurial status where farmers with LTS are secure with the sufficiency and diversity of their food supply (Ravanera, 2017; ANGOC, 2017). While LTS is equated to improved perception of FS, it does not equate to actual FS. Majority of farmers still experience hunger (though they are confident about their land tenure) due to low farm productivity, low income from farming, and increasing food prices (Roa, et al., 2014; Villapando, et al., 2019). Moreover, farmers without LTS or those still with landlord and tenancy arrangements are more exposed to experiences of hunger where food access is compromised due to lack of ownership and access to land (Ravanera, 2017; Villapando, et al., 2019).
Interestingly, it was revealed that regardless of tenurial status, farmers consider farming as their primary source of food (Ravanera, 2017). Having land tenure security, therefore, acts as a catalyst in the control, and utilisation of the land for agricultural production.
Nutrition-sensitive agricultural outcome/interventions
The study revealed two nutrition-sensitive agricultural outcome/interventions which directly link to FSN – crop diversification and homestead food production (HFP). The implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which lead to strengthened LTS of the farmers encouraged the diversification of crops as having LTS, farmers had the freedom to utilize the land and decide on crops they will plant (Vista, et al., 2012; ANGOC, 2017). Diversification of crops is a nutrition-sensitive agricultural intervention that increases dietary diversity and quality as it adds a greater variety of food in the household (Gibson & Hotz, 2005; Cabalda, et al., 2011; Ravanera, 2017; ANGOC, 2017), ANGOC, 2017). HFP is another nutrition-sensitive agricultural intervention that provides direct access to diverse fresh foods harvested and prepared for home consumption. Vegetable crops from HFP supplement the diet by providing micronutrient-rich foods and complement the staple farm crops that are mostly rice and maize, hence increase dietary diversity and quality (Cabalda, et al., 2011; Dorado, et al., 2018; Honculada-Genove, 2020; Talukder, et al., 2010). Both diversification of crops and HFP improve food access, availability, and utilisation.
The implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which lead to strengthened land tenure security of the farmers encouraged the diversification of crops as having land tenure security, farmers had the freedom to utilize the land and decide on crops they will plant.
Women’s tenure security, and their role in FSN
Women are primarily responsible for HFP which also becomes a source of livelihood for them. Since women are given some access, control, and utilisation of farm plots, they engage in HFP or backyard gardening. Surplus production from HFP is sold in the markets by women and provides them supplementary cash they could use to buy food not available from their gardens. This lessens the expenditure on food and the budget for vegetables can be freed, allowing access to other nutritious foods, answering diet quality, and diversity (Honculada-Genove, 2020; Dorado, et al., 2018).
Evidence also showed that women’s participation in agricultural practices and decisions exhibits a tighter link in food production and FSN.
This study contributed evidence towards relating LG and LTS with FSN since there is little understanding of how these concepts interact at the country level. It also sought to provide relevant insight to policymakers and development experts regarding the role of LG and LTS. The evidence provided supports strengthening land governance and securing tenure rights (ILC Commitment #1) as means to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - zero hunger and ensuring access to food by all (SDG 2.1) and eradicating all forms of malnutrition (SDG 2.2).