Does Land Conflict Matter to Farm Productivity? A Case Study of Cambodia
Land-related conflicts in Cambodia have been garnering much attention. The Cambodian government, through the Prime Minister, pledged to resolve land-related disputes, as they not only hurt the people but negatively impact on the national development agenda. Land disputes are estimated to involve 200,000 poor Cambodians. The government has been urged by international aid agencies to solve land problems to aid rural development and alleviate poverty. This paper evaluates the determinants of land conflict and its impact on land productivity, and provides recommendations on land governance in Cambodia, using an extensive 2004 nationwide household survey data consisting of 15,000 households in 600 rural and 300 urban villages.
In the face of a growing landless population, primarily with loss of ownership by female-headed households, this study finds evidence that suggests other approaches for policymakers in preventing a growing landless population and land conflict prevention. It was also found out that modalities of acquisition are not a dominant cause of land conflict, while posessing land title reduces the probability of getting one's land into dispute.
The analysis finds evidence of negative impact of land conflicts on farm productivity. This finding supports the hypothesis of the study and confirms the downward spiral events of conflicts that impact on farm productivity. The most involved in land-related conflicts are agricultural lands, which may signify the community’s risk for low land productivity. The numerous land grabbing incidents in Cambodia may also lead to land conflicts. There is urgent call for the Cambodian government to solve land conflicts or improve land governance not only for agricultural development, but also for Cambodians’ rights over their lands. The impetus of resolving land issues, especially in rural Cambodia, will contribute to more effective poverty reduction efforts.