Nelly Bassily | January 18, 2010
Across Africa, rural communities are protesting against land grabs. Farmers have been joined by environmentalists and land activists concerned about foreign companies taking control of farmland. In some cases, these protests have been effective in stopping land deals.
In Mozambique, a deal between the government and a foreign investor was recently cancelled. But it wasn’t due to local protest. The deal was cancelled because the investor was slow to clear the land.
Procana is the name of a proposed sugarcane plantation in southern Mozambique. The plantation was to cover 30,000 hectares. The sugarcane was earmarked for ethanol production.
A British company was the original investor in the project. But following a series of transfers, the project is now managed by a company called Sable Mining, which is based in the Caribbean.
At the end of December, the Mozambique government announced that the contract with the land investor was void. The reason given was that the company had cleared only 800 hectares of land, leaving more than 29,000 hectares untouched.
While this news story proves that protests aren’t the only way for a land deal to collapse, the following FRW reports describe cases where protesting has been effective in halting land grab attempts:
-“Africa: Angola land deal announced; Madagascar land deal on hold” (FRW #52, January 2009)
-“Kenya: Local resistance to land grab captures government, investor attention” (FRW #70, June 2009)
-“Republic of the Congo: Land deals on hold” (FRW #71, June 2009)