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The Cyclops of Farms Rears Its Head

Touch the Soil News #538 (feature photo a Cyclops statue in the Natural History Museum of London by Deror Avi)

It is difficult to grasp the magnitude of a secretive farm project for which details are often lacking. The size, scope and potential disruption of this project brings to mind the Cyclops of antiquity.

The project between the governments of Japan, Brazil and Mozambique – called the ProSavane – has been in the works since 2011. The project plans to mimic a large project in Brazil in which Brazilian agribusinesses will replicate industrial mono-culture farming in Mozambique.

Mozambique is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world and is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources. The ProSavane envisions a farm of monstrous proportions and consequences – 35.8 million acres (18 percent of the total land of Mozambique) and is presently home to hundreds of thousands of small indigenous farmers. It is the equivalent of a farm that is 50 miles wide and 1,100 miles long.

The areas with lines indicate where the ProSavane plan will unfold. In Mozambique, people do not have the right to own land – only the government. Concerns are that that the negative impacts of the ProSavane on the indigenous people will not be heard or addressed (photo courtesy of Club of Mozambique).

The Mozambique Union of Farmers is formally opposing the ProSavana project which, after 5 years of planning is getting closer to actualization. Their reasons for opposition were recently published by La Via Campesina:

“We peasant farmers have concluded that: 1) ProSavana is a result of a top-down policy, which does not take into consideration the demands, dreams and basic concerns of peasants, particularly those within the Nacala Corridor. 2) We vehemently condemn any initiative which aims to resettle communities and expropriate the land of peasants to give way to mega farming projects for mono-crop production (soybeans, sugar cane, cotton, etc. 3) We condemn the arrival of masses of Brazilian farmers seeking to establish agribusinesses that will transform Mozambican peasant farmers into their employees and rural laborers.”

The Mozambique Union of Farmers is protesting the ProSavane project (photo courtesy of La Via Campesina).

Following is a rare video clip that explores the issues of the ProSavane:

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