Ongoing projects in Ghana, Georgia, and India are real-time proof that governments have bought into the idea of blockchain to help in the efficacy of land governance, the protection of people's land rights, reduce land conflicts, and address corruption and land fraud. Especially for developing countries, the idea of going from paper to digital based management is even more important in this emerging global digital economy, whereby the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) transformation of government services (via e-services) is a mechanism for reaching targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Whilst blockchain land administration projects focus on the state to individual relationship to land through the preservation of titles, there is little discussion or evidence of the application of blockchain in addressing individual to individual relationships to land (transferring of rights). The question arises as to how this nascent technology can be applied to the manifold verbal land agreements/handshake deals to protect livelihoods, while maintaining transparency, openness, confidentiality, and protection of both land users and landowners.
While it is understood that plurality and diversity of rights and tenure systems exist, in this paper we consider the canonical example of small-scale farmers who gain access to lands through vernacular land markets. We draw from case studies of small-scale farmers, in particular the case of Trinidad and Tobago wherein informal tenure excludes some farmers from accessing state incentives for their livelihoods and inhibits livelihood resilience.