Monday, August 20, 2007

Land grab

تؤلف نسبة الاملاك الخاصة من الأراضي الصالحة للزراعة في لبنان 84.6% من مجموع الأراضي. وذلك بحسب الدراسة التي أجرتها وزارة الزراعة تحت عنوان «الزراعة في أرقام»، وتناولت فيها توزع الملكيات الزراعية وفقاً لوضعها القضائي. تليها الأراضي ذات الملكية الأميرية بـ 12.1%، ثم 1.3% للأراضي الخاضعة للأوقاف، لتنخفض الى 1.0% للملكية العامة، و1.0% للأراضي المصنفة ضمن

Arable land in Lebanon, from a recent study by the ministry of agriculture: 84.6% under private ownership, 12.1% as Amiri lands (another form of private ownership), 1.3% wakf (religious lands), 1% mashaa (municipal or state land).

This is the potential for ownership for those who lack resources for farming, the landless share croppers: 1%. The situation is worsened by the fact that 50% of the arable land is owned by 0.1% of the people, by the absence of land use planning and by the lack of security for farmers renting land.

Private property is sacred in Lebanon, and land reform is a big taboo. Big landowners are ready to fight it out (as they now do) to protect their assets, the sacred heirloom that has been in their family for generations. One should really look into how did land come into private ownership at the end of the ottoman empire. Most of the land was then owned by the ottoman state and farmed out to feudal landlords of various sizes and appellations: Emirs, Beiks, Sheikhs, and other pompous titles. There is even a Marquis: the Marquis de Freige (a papal title, I am told) and who is a big landowner, and a member of parliament in the Hariri block. Surprised?


Ms Levantine said...

Pillaging waqf and mashaa is still very popular in Lebanon except that it is now called BOT (build operate transfer).

For eg. Michel Murr started his quarries in the Metn on GO waqf property with the blessing of the clergy.

Also,pls note that agri. land is not as valuable today as real estate and touritic land.

It would be interesting to have statistics of non-arable land belonging to waqf and machaa and finding out what is being done.

The picture that wil emerge will not be a pretty one.

MM. said...

Private property is indeed sacred in Lebanon, as it should be.
These left-wing policies that advocated land reform are now out of date (granted that the evils of capitalism are many).
Let us look at what land reform did to Syria, Egypt, and Iraq.
It may have empowered the peasantry but it led to economic disaster. The Egyptian elite (or many of them) simply packed up and left during Nasser's time, thus draining Egypt of its elite. Infact many of them came to Leb. due to its freedom and banking secrecy.
Finally, the poor ought to improve their lot not wealth redistribution but by wealth creation.
You can steal from the rich to give to the poor but it's stealing nonetheless. Robin Hood Economics infact.
It is against common sense and is morally indefensible.