This article examines, through different processes of changing land use and land tenure, the various types of formal and informal contractual relations existing in two areas of the Niger Basin in southern Mali that are dominated economically by two parastatal companies: Compagnie Malienne pour le Développement du Textile (CMDT) and Office du Niger (ON). The article shows how the production interventions of these two companies shape the framework of land administration in the Niger Basin and the context in which customary relations operate, and lead to the commodification of land relations. It traces the various routes, contracts and arrangements through which people gain access to agricultural land. Besides describing the various transactions in land and contractual relationships, the article also analyses land leasing, sharecropping and various other ways of gaining secondary rights through prestations and loans. Finally, it describes the various land conflicts, the actors involved in making various claims on land and claims to land administration, and the institutions and institutional pluralism that emerge in conflict resolution. The article links these to the increasing commodification of land and agriculture, and the domination of policy by economic liberalism.