In this paper, we critically engage with SDG-2- Target 2.3 and SDG-5 to examine how and why large-scale agricultural land acquisitions modify the social relations of women’s food access. Adopting qualitative methods and from agrarian political economy perspectives, we assess the implications of plantation investments on food security and gender equality in Cameroon and Ghana. The study draws on the impacts of various plantation schemes in Cameroon and Ghana to argue that the current allencompassing framing of the SDG-2, whereby support for small-scale production appears to co-exist with the promotion of corporate-led agricultural investments, tends to create a vague interpretation of food security, even when capitalist motives override the interests of rural working men and women. In both countries, plantations have been characterised by displacement, reduced food production and competition over land resources in rural contexts where women bear the burden of social reproduction, particularly in subsistence and food provisioning for their households. Restricted access to farmlands hampers petty commodity production, and provokes rural exodus among farming populations in Cameroon who compete with pastoralists for land; and in the Ghana case, where settlers and migrants compete with dispossessed indigenes for arable lands. The study shows the inherent contradictions and tensions within the narratives of sustainable development and projects which are considered as potential pathways to the SDGs. One of such tension areas is between local food security- which is a gendered role for women in West/Central Africa – and the accumulation imperatives of capitalist investors. We iterate that achieving zero hunger requires gender-inclusive land and labour policies that recognise, protect and empower small farmers and women, and create opportunities for local and national food self-sufficiency.

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World Development
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Fonjong, L., & Gyapong, A. (2020). Plantations, women, and food security in Africa. World Development, 138(105293). doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.105293