For these people, secure and equitable access to land is a key to the realisation of their right to food and other human rights.

Other farmers – often including smallholders – would like to expand their activities and invest in their own farms. A study commissioned by the UN Committee on World Food Security has recently revealed that limited access to land and other natural resources is one of the three most binding constraints on smallholder farming investment, especially for women. Highly skewed distribution of access to land and water critically hinders the productive potential of smallholder farmers.

Governance of land tenure – a highly political issue

How people and communities gain access to land is defined and regulated by societies through systems of tenure. The tenure systems determine who can use which resources, for how long, and under what conditions. The systems may be based on written policies and laws or on unwritten customs and practices.