LAND TENURE SYSTEM IN  NIGERIA

Land tenure is defined as the system of land ownership or acquisition by individual, family, community or government agency either for temporary or permanent use.

The land tenure system in West Africa varies with tribes, communities and states. It can be classified into the following groups:

  • Communal land tenure.
  • Land tenure by inheritance.
  • Leasehold system.
  • Land tenure by tenancy.
  • Land tenure by purchase or freehold.
  • Land tenure by free gift or pledge.
  • Tenant at the will of government.

Note: Land tenure by

  • Freehold system;
  • Leasehold system;
  • Gift system;
  • Tenants system;
  • Tenant at the will of government;
  • Inheritance system are collectively referred to as Individual Land Tenure Systems.

 

1. Communal Land Tenure

Features

In this type, the land belongs to the entire community. The community may be a family, clan or village. Every member of the community has the right to use the land for agriculture, but cannot sell any portion of it. The head of the community who may be a chief, an Oba, Obi, Emir or a Baale decides how the land is to be divided among members for farming purpose usually at the beginning of each planting season. The system relies on the availability of large area of land that can be shared to each member of the community.

 

Advantages

  1. Each member of the community has easy access to the land.
  2. Co-operative farming is possible since the land is extensive.
  3. Large scale farming or plantation agriculture is possible due to its large size, if only community members cooperate.
  4. The land is cheap to acquire, as no cost is involved.

 

Disadvantages or Problems

  1. Non-members of the community cannot have access to the land for farming.
  2. There is usually lack of co-operation among community members, if the land is to be used for large scale farming.
  3. Land cannot be pledged, sold or used as collateral by an individual.
  4. Those with means, but who are not members of the community, find it difficult to get land for farming activities. That is, non-indigenes of the community cannot acquire land or have access to it.
  5. There is tendency to neglect parcels of useful land as no one readily considers it his/her interest to protect it from degradation.
  6. It is characterized by litigations and misunderstanding.
  7. Mechanized farming cannot be practised without permission of the whole community.
  8. There is excessive land fragmentation over time.
  9. Allotted land can be revoked by new leadership.
  10. It does not encourage planting of permanent crops.

 

2. Land Tenure by Inheritance

Features

This is the type of land tenure in which land is inherited from one’s parent or from one generation to another. In Nigeria, land for agricultural activities are mainly acquired through inheritance. The land so inherited from a single parent is shared among all his children and this eventually leads to fragmentation of the land.

It gives the owner complete freedom on the land. The owner may sell the land, leave it to fallow, farm on the land, or rent it out. The land can be used as collateral for agricultural loans.

 

Advantages

  1. The land can be used as collateral to obtain loans from commercial banks.
  2. The land can be improved by way of fertilizer application in order to maintain its fertility.
  3. Perennial crops like cocoa, orange, oil palm, etc can be planted since the land belongs to the rightful owner.

 

Disadvantages or Problems

  1. It leads to excessive land fragmentation which makes the land very difficult and uneconomical to work.
  2. Sharing of land is a delicate issue which can generate bitter enmity among family members.
  3. It is very difficult to assess how far the individual has the right to use and control a piece of inherited land freely.
  4. Cultivators are tied to their plots, partly because they are unwilling to part with what they have.
  5. Some feel it is immoral to sell land, since it robs future generation of the opportunity to inherit lands.
  6. Such agricultural land is subject to traditional restrictions in many parts of Nigeria unlike the concept of land sale widely accepted in urban areas.
  7. Land is not readily available for everybody.
  8. Large scale commercial agriculture cannot be practised because the land is highly fragmented.

 

3. Leasehold System

Features

This type of land tenure requires the payment of certain amount of money for the use of the land over a stated period of time.

In other words, leasehold tenure system is a special contract existing between a person called the leasor and another called the leasee for the lease of a piece of land for a specified period of years, which may be ten years, twenty years or fifty years. The leasee will exercise his right on the use and maintenance of the land for the period of lease.

 

Advantages

  1. It ensures the use of available land.
  2. It enables the farmer to maximize the use of the land in terms of maintenance of the soil fertility in order to improve the productivity of crops.

 

Disadvantages or Problems

  1. The land cannot be used as security to obtain loan from commercial banks.
  2. The farmer cannot develop the land beyond the lease agreement terms.
  3. Perennial crops like oil palm, cocoa, rubber, etc cannot be grown.

 

4. Land Tenure by Rent

Features

In this system, the farmer rents the land for use over a short period of time during which certain amount of money is paid as rent for its use. At the end of the period, the agreement may be reviewed, if the landlord so desires.

 

Advantages

  1. It makes use of available land for agricultural purposes.
  2. The land is efficiently used and maintained for maximum production within the short period.

 

Disadvantages or Problems

  1. The land cannot be used for securing loan.
  2. It affects long term planning.
  3. There is limitation in the development of such land.

 

5. Land Tenure by Purchase or Free hold

Features

In this type of land tenure, a farmer buys a piece of land for agricultural purposes. He pays certain amount of money to the landlord and the land becomes his personal property.

It gives the owner complete freedom on the land. He may sell the land, leave it fallow, farm on the land or rent it out. The owner can use the land as collateral for agricultural loans.

 

Advantages

  1. The farmer can use the land to secure loan from banks.
  2. Perennial crops can be grown.
  3. Proper planning in the development of such land can be done.

 

Disadvantages or Problems

  1. The land may be too expensive to purchase.
  2. The actual owner may be difficult to establish.
  3. The farmer may not have sufficient money to buy the exact size of the land he needs.

 

6. Land Tenure by Free Gift or Pledge

Features

This is the type of land tenure system in which land is donated or given out of goodwill or free of charge in appreciation or as an incentive. The new owner does not need to pay any money.

 

Advantages

  1. It ensures the maximum use of the land for increased production.
  2. Plantation agriculture can be practised.
  3. It can be used as security to obtain loan.

 

Disadvantages or Problems

  1. The ownership of the land can be challenged at any time.
  2. There may be disagreement over such gift among family members.

 

7. Tenants at the Will of Government

Features

This is a system of land tenure in which a piece of land is given or allocated to a farmer by the government. The land belongs to the government and the farmer has to pay certain amount of money to the government for using such land, usually for a stipulated period of time.

 

Advantages

  1. Farmers can easily have access to land.
  2. The land is wisely used for productive purposes.
  3. The land is cheap to acquire.
  4. The land can easily be improved by way of fertilizer application.

 

Disadvantages or Problems

  1. Permanent or perennial crops cannot be cultivated.
  2. Farmers cannot use the land as collateral to secure loans from banks.
  3. There are usually lots of bottlenecks or bureaucracy in the allocation, regulation and control over such land.
  4. Such land can easily be revoked, if the tenant fails to pay the rent at the right time.

 

WAYS IN WHICH LAND TENURE SYSTEM AFFECTS AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION

  1. May lead to fragmentation of land which cannot be mechanized.
  2. Correct ownership of some plots of land cannot be determined.
  3. Land cannot be used as collateral for loans in some tenural systems.
  4. Large scale farming cannot be practised on small scattered farm holdings.
  5. Strangers are prevented from owning land, hence they cannot come to develop the land.
  6. Because of the short tenancy period in some systems, permanent land improvement programmes cannot be carried out by holders.
  7. There is often restriction on the type of crops (e.g. permanent crops) that can be grown on the land in some systems.
  8. Some land owners may not have the intention of farming while those willing to farm cannot own land because of the tenure system.
  9. Some land owners exploit those without land by unfavourable tenancy conditions.
  10. Production is very high on land acquired by purchasing or freehold because land improvement can be carried out.
  11. Land Use Act/Decree (of 1978 in Nigeria) made more land available to farmers for large scale production.
  12. Acquisition of land through freehold is expensive, thereby discouraging agricultural investors.