A new Future Fellow: innovating land reallocation

By Sophie Thomas

Professor Tom Wilkening awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship aimed at improving the way land is reallocated.

The ARC has awarded $1,063,947 to fund the research project, which will see Professor Wilkening apply recent advances in market design to improve agricultural outcomes for some of the poorest farmers in the world.

“Poorer countries have small, fragmented farms that aren’t optimal for productivity. Because developing countries devote most of their labour force to agriculture, reallocating land has the potential to increase national productivity, ensure food stability, and promote growth,” Professor Wilkening said.

Tom Wilkening
Professor Tom Wilkening.

The core aim of the project is to develop a new system to allow participants to trade packages of land in a way that benefits all parties.

“For economists, this kind of work is very rewarding - developing practical solutions to difficult economic problems,” Professor Wilkening said.

“Receiving this fellowship will allow me to devote myself to this important project fully. It’s a great opportunity.”

The project will occur on the ground in East Africa but will have implications for developing nations the world over.

Additionally, Professor Wilkening and his collaborators will work toward a second phase that will design land reallocation mechanisms to benefit developed nations like Australia.

“Effective land reallocation is vital for Australia too, not only for our agriculture sector but also for the health and prosperity of our cities,” he said.

“It allows for the cost-effective provision of infrastructure, the reallocation of land for redevelopment, and for the provision of environmental services.”