Most of the people in Borno belong to the Kanuri ethnic group, where customary land ownership is obtained either by clearing land with the permission of the village head, by inheriting a plot, or by being given a plot by a previous owner. The owner of a plot of land is seen as a mere trustee who has no right to sell the land. Ownership also depends on the continued cultivation of the land; if it is left to lie fallow for too long, then the land is given back to the group. Cohen (1967) has identified four different types of land ownership around villages in Borno:

• Land owned outright by the household head. • Land which has been cleared by the head of the household which may

become his own after long years of use. • Resting land, a farm plot that has been in use but whose depleted soil the

owner will probably use again in the future. • Free unused land which can be used by newcomers or those trying to expand

their farms.