Public Lecture | Prof An Ansoms | Land lost – land regained in transforming rural landscapes? Smallholder farmers navigating Rwanda’s agrarian and land reforms | Dec 18th 2019

Wednesday December 18th, 2019 | 15.00 – 17.00 | Leeuwenborch building Room C62 | Wageningen University

In her lecture, An Ansoms will reflect on how different discourses on land reform -centred on rights, conflictuality or efficiency-  have played a role in the reorganisation of Rwanda’s rural economy. Since 2007-2008, Rwandan authorities embarked upon an ambitious project to reorganise the entire agrarian sector. Instead of counting on subsistence-based family farming, the Rwandan government elaborated a Green Revolution strategy, aiming to promote productive farming through the modernisation and professionalization of the entire agrarian sector. This involved the creation of a centrally-organised land registration system, a Crop Intensification Policy and a system of performance contracts. Professor Ansoms will reflect on how the various land governance discourses were mobilised by authorities at all levels, and how they culminated in a concrete reconfiguration of the rural landscape. She will also point to how other actors involved (civil society, farmer organisations, private sector), and in particular smallholder farmers have navigated and continue to navigate within Rwanda’s agrarian and land reforms. Interestingly, the space for criticism towards the ‘modernising’ orientation of the reforms is opening up. Forms of contestation by smallholder farmers are being picked up by Rwandan policy makers, and ten years after the introduction of the New Green Revolution, this is resulting in renewed opportunities for smallholder farming.

An Ansoms is professor in development studies at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium). She coordinates an interdisciplinary action-research project, titled ‘Land Rush’ (, on natural resource conflicts in conflict-prone settings in Central Africa. The interdisciplinary team is composed of African and European scholars who engage in in-depth prolonged field research in Eastern DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. They actively engage in generating scientific knowledge, but also participate in societal debates, and in reflections around the ethical and emotional challenges of research in conflict settings.

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All welcome. Registration is not necessary. This event is organised by the Conflict@WUR cluster of the CSPS. PhD students are invited to join a Masterclass with An Ansoms in the morning of December 18th.

For further information (or registration for the Masterclass) please contact