Against a backdrop of growing concern about ‘land grabs‘ in Africa and the conversion of smallholder agriculture to large-scale commercial agriculture, a leak from a controversial economic development plan has raised alarm in Mozambique, as well as Brazil and Japan [ja], two key donors.
According to Mozambican NGO Justiça Ambiental and a number of other co-signing organizations, a leaked copy of the so-called Master Plan for the ProSAVANA program, dated March 2013, reveals the ‘land grabbing’ plans of the governments of Japan, Brazil and Mozambique.
Brazilian activist Fátima Mello explains what ProSAVANA is, and gives some important background on the project in an interview with Instituto Humanitas [pt]:
O ProSavana é um programa de cooperação e investimentos entre três governos: Brasil, Japão e Moçambique. É um programa agrícola que abrange três províncias no norte de Moçambique, numa área estimada em 14,5 milhões de hectares, onde vivem aproximadamente 5,5 milhões de camponeses que produzem, a partir de um sistema de base familiar, alimentos. O ProSavana deriva do Prodecer, um programa que foi desenvolvido no Cerrado brasileiro, em Mato Grosso, realizado pela cooperação japonesa com o Brasil nos anos 1980 e que produziu as características que conhecemos no Cerrado: gigantescos monocultivos de soja em larga escala voltados para a exportação, intenso uso de agrotóxicos, expulsão de populações tradicionais, concentração da propriedade da terra, contaminação do solo e criação de um poderio econômico do latifúndio e do agronegócio, que se traduziu em poder político…
Prosavana is an aid and investment program between three governments: Brazil, Japan, and Mozambique. It is an agricultural program that spans three provinces in the north of Mozambique, in an area estimated at 14.5 million hectares, where approximately 5.5 million people produce food as family farmers. Prosavana derives from Prodecer, a program that was developed in the Brazilian “cerrado” (grasslands), in Mato Grosso, undertaken by Japanese aid with Brazil in the 1980s and that produced the characteristics that we know in the Cerrado: gigantic monocultures of soy on a large scale for export, intense use of agrotoxins, expulsion of traditional crops, concentration of land, contamination of the soil and creation of an economic powerhouse of land-owning elites and agribusiness, which translated into political power…
The land area in question in the “Nacala Corridor” is the size of Switzerland and Austria. The agencies sponsoring this project and the government had not yet made maps available to farmers and citizens, detailing what land will be included. Farmers organizations have felt totally shut out of the shaping of this project and policy.
The National Farmers Union of Mozambique (UNAC) said last year:
We, peasant farmers, condemn the way in which the ProSavana programme was drafted and the way it is intended to be implemented in Mozambique, which has been characterised by reduced transparency and the exclusion of civil society organisations throughout the process, especially peasant organisations.
On the blog Delegoa Bay, a blogger called ABM writes [pt]:
Conversando com camponeses ao longo do Corredor de Nacala fica claro que brasileiros e japoneses estão indo às comunidades para avisar que o ProSavana está chegando. Depois afirmarão que fizeram as chamadas consultas a sociedade civil. Isso que estão fazendo não é consulta…
Conversing with family farmers along the Nacala Corridor it becomes clear that Brazilians and Japanese are going to communities to warn that ProSavana is coming. Then they will maintain that they did so-called consultations with civil society. What they are doing is not consulting.
In March, under increasing pressure the Mozambican government stated [pt] that “dialogue [with communities] must be permanent”. Brazilian diplomats have responded to the calls for transparency by stating that small farmers will be included in the plans to develop Mozambique's Nacala Corridor. Head of the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, Fernando Abreu, was quoted last month [pt] as saying that more information was needed, also claiming that there were no plans to resettle or move farmers from their land.
The leaks contain maps, showing which districts will be targeted for large-scale farming for export, allowing civil society organizations to verify exactly which communities could be affected in order to get a better idea of the potential impact. The leaked document identifies seven “clusters” for intensive development.
Justiça Ambiental and co-signers describe what kind of agriculture the plan will bring
Some of the projects within the plan will provide large areas of land to investors. The Integrated Grain Cluster, which is planned for Majune District, Niassa Province, will be managed by one vertically integrated company that will operate nine 5,000 ha farms, within a 60,000 ha zone, to produce a rotation of maize, soybeans and sunflower, mainly for export. According to the plan, ‘the project has a high profitability and the internal rate of return was calculated at 20.3% and the payback is 9 years.’
They go on to question whether there are any benefits for the Mozambicans in the region:
It is telling that only one of the seven clusters in the Master Plan is aimed at small scale farmers and family food production. And this cluster only proposes the same old failed green revolution model of development. The Master Plan puts no real thought and energy into the needs and capacities of peasants in the Nacala Corridor.
Corporations are the big beneficiaries of this Master Plan. They will get control over land and production and they will control the trade of the foods produced, which will be exported along the roads, rail lines and Nacala port that other foreign corporations will be paid to construct with public funds from Mozambique and Japan.
The National Farmer's Union foresaw a host of problems arising from the ProSAVANA project already last year. Landlessness, social upheaval, impoverishment, corruption, water pollution and ecological imbalance due to deforestation, the Union warned, could become a reality if the project went ahead as planned.