Main basse sur la terre - Mozambique
Mozambique, the big hold-up
Africa is the favoured target of this scramble for agricultural land. In Mozambique, where a hectare of land is leased for a dollar a year, it’s cut-price sale time. The country is a patchwork of small family farms, but it’s often the peasants who are the collateral victims of the deals, sacrificed on the altar of agricultural development, and quiet arrangements between a corrupt elite and unscrupulous investors. From one end of the country to the other, the process is well-established: dummy consultations are organized to get the inhabitants’ agreement to the investors coming in. Promises (new jobs, health centres, wells, etc) and alcohol flow freely.
Many of the locals are ready to believe this and to swap their field hand clothes for those of an agricultural worker. Family farming can just about allow them to exist, leaving almost 40% of the population undernourished. But most of the deals are fool’s games, ending up in plundering, plain and simple. Faced with derisory compensation, relocation to infertile land and temporary jobs, the people are often without recourse.
However, peasant associations have started to take successful action against a new project, ProSavana, in which a third of Mozambique’s arable land would be dedicated to crops mainly intended for export. In a country that is still suffering from famine, it’s more than yet another manifestation of rapacious plundering, it’s a real aberration.