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Changing Land Tenure and Informal Land Markets in the Oil Palm Frontier Regions of Papua New Guinea: the challenge for land reform

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This paper reports on the authors’ ongoing research with agricultural extension services, customary landowners and migrant farmers to develop a template for a Land Usage Agreement (LUA) that seeks to reconcile customary landowners’ and migrants’ differing interpretations of the moral basis of land rights. The LUA shows a way forward for land reform that builds on customary tenure while strengthening the temporary use rights of migrants to enable them to generate viable and relatively secure livelihoods. The paper concludes that land tenure reform should draw on what is already happening on the ground, rather than impose external models that do not accord with local cultural mores about the inalienability of customary land and its enduring social and cultural significance for customary landowning groups.
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Keywords: Land reform; customary land tenure; land rights; migration; oil palm; relational economies; rural change; social embeddedness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Curtin University, Australia 2: PNG Oil Palm Research Association, Papua New Guinea

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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