Local farmers in Mozambique are concerned that an agricultural development project being pushed by Japan will amount to land grabbing.
The program, dubbed “ProSavana,” is being promoted by the Japanese, Brazilian and Mozambican governments with an eye to developing a vast area of intact savanna in northern Mozambique encompassing more than 24.7 million acres of land in three provinces, according to a report in Global Post.
ProSavanna is designed to promote agribusiness that will only benefit foreign companies, said representatives of the Civic Commission for Africa, speaking at the three-day Tokyo International Conference on African Development, according to the report.
Leaders should ensure that the process does not lead to the dispossession of the small farmers in what is commonly referred to as land grabbing, the civic commission said in a statement Monday.
Japan worked with Brazil in the 1970s to develop the Cerrado savanna area, which had been thought unsuitable for farming. As a result, Brazil became a major soybean exporter, stabilizing the supply of soybeans for Japan, the report says. The two countries now look to make Mozambique the next model case of “successful” development aid in agriculture, which they say will lead to poverty reduction.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is involved in the project, says the locals in Mozambique don’t understand the project. It’s aimed at improving agricultural skills of local farmers to boost their standard of living, the report says.
Farmers are justifiably concerned, said Augusto Mafigo, president of Mozambique’s National Peasants’ Union. In 2010, farmers in Tete Province in northern Mozambique were forced off their land after coal reserves were found there, he said.