Researchers and development practitioners have long considered customary land tenure systems that typify Pacific countries as impediments to economic development underpinned by the commercialisation of agriculture. This perspective assumes that customary tenure is insecure, which enables small, uneconomic holdings to persist, dissuades agricultural investment, inhibits access to credit and finance, and perpetuates disputes. This paper reports a systematic literature review addressing the following question of critical importance to land reforms in Pacific Island countries: How do different land tenure arrangements shape agricultural production and development in the Pacific? Results reveal that: 1) there is limited empirical research investigating the influence of land tenure on agricultural development in the Pacific; and 2) when the links between land tenure and agriculture are examined, the tenure arrangements of interest are inadequately described, which constrains the application of findings. There is scope to extend the empirical research base across a wider range of Pacific countries than currently reported in the literature, and to better link findings from anthropological studies of land tenure systems to the agricultural development literature. Such integration, alongside investigations of the role of land tenure in the broader dynamics of rural change, is critical to the development of improved land policies.
XXIII Agri-food Research Network Annual Conference (AGRIFOOD): Food and the Asian Century: Opportunities and Challenges in the ‘Neighbourhood’, Adelaide, Australia 6-10 December 2016