The way the land is held or owned differs in different parts of the world, depending on the existing laws and customs. Similarly, the ownership of land is critical to the purpose of use of the land.
Traditionally in West Africa, land ownership is either communal or individual. Also, although most land is used for agricultural purposes land ownership affects the development of agriculture.
Land tenure is defined as the system of land ownership by individuals, families, communities, or government agencies either for temporary use or as permanent property.
Definition of Land Tenure System
Classes of Land Tenure System
1. Communal Land Tenure
The land belongs to the entire community, as represented by a family, a village, or a clan. This is a typical traditional practice in Nigeria. Every member of the community is entitled to a piece of the land for agriculture. Also, allottees have the freedom to grow choice crops, to use the land for any purpose, and the freedom to make desired improvements on the land without restriction.
However, the individual allotted can neither sell any part of the land nor under normal circumstances, transfer the land to a stranger. The land tenure system involves a small population of users and subsistence farming, which hampers mechanization and economic exploitation despite the abundance of land.
There is a limitation to the acquisition of more available land by an intending farmer. Communal land cannot be used as security for accessing credit facilities in commercial banks.
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2. Inheritance Land Tenure
This involves the acquisition of land by inheritance from a parent(s) or generation to generation. In Nigeria, most agricultural lands are acquired through inheritance.
3. Leasehold System
This system involves the payment of a certain amount of money for the use of the land over a specified time.
4. Rent Land Tenure
This system involves the payment of a certain amount of money as rent for the use of land by a farmer over a short period.
5. Individual Land Tenure
This involves the ownership of a piece of land by an individual through either freehold or rent tenancy.
Freehold Ownership Advantages are;
1. Complete freedom of owner over the land,
2. Permanent ownership of land,
3. Freeholders can use the land for any purpose, and
4. Freeholder ownership of land offers great security to a freeholder, with high prospects of huge investment and returns on investment on land.
1. Individuals who have none or inadequate land can neither rent nor buy from the freeholder,
2. Possibility of land fragmentation by the freeholder, thus making intensive or large-scale agriculture difficult and reducing the associated economic efficiency.
6. Rent Tenancy
This land tenure system involves the renting of portions or all of the lands by the individual land owner to farmers as tenants. The tenants pay rent for using the land as well as remit a proportion of the yield from the land to the land owner.
7. Land tenure by purchase or freehold
This involves an outright purchase of the land for agriculture.
8. Land tenure by gift or pledge
This involves the acquisition of land as a gift.
Nigeria’s total land area is 92.4 m ha. About 91 m ha of this is adjudged suitable for cultivation. Also, approximately half of this cultivable land is effectively under permanent and arable crops while the rest is covered by forest woodland, permanent pasture, and built-up areas.
Land Use Systems
Agriculture: In Nigeria, most land is used for farming. The various farming activities include growing food crops, plantation crops or feed crops; pastoralism, bush or planted fallow, and forest reserves.
Non-agricultural land: The use of land for housing, roads, railways, sea-ports, airports, reservoirs, shops, industries, and warehouses. Others are military installations, offices, hospitals, parks, and wildlife resorts. Non-agricultural land use involves a small proportion of the total land area in Nigeria, despite the increasing population and industrial growth.
Factors Causing Changes in the Usage of Agricultural Lands
These factors include;
1. The establishment of forest reserves.
2. Road and railway construction, especially connecting farm production centers.
3. Construction of houses, hospitals, office complexes, and non-agricultural structures essential for human welfare, which commands some prices on land sale by the farmer.
4. Population growth and the need to increase food crop production for consumption and export earnings for national development.
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