By Hwaa Irfan
Once Upon a time, not so long ago, the activities of wealth sought more wealth in cloaked terms in a series of covert socio-economic and political operations. As the U.S. foreign policy becomes crystal clear even to those who wish to turn a blind eye, as evidenced by the onslaught on Libya,
other follow suit. It is almost a desperate bid to bully, intimidate, and invalidate the sovereignty of another country in order to save one’s self from the gaping abyss that is the result of the global economic crisis.
The American Iowa-based investors belonging to the industrial agricultural corporation AgriSol, Summit Group and Global Agriculture Fund of the Pharos Financial Group, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University follow in the steps of all the U.S. giants since WWI, in their attempt to ‘acquire’ 325,000 hectares of land in Tanzania.
Refugees is a strange concept in Africa when one looks at the demography historically, bearing in mind that statehood, is a modern Western concept that has led to many wars, but refugees are what the people who live on the land that AgriSol hope to acquire are referred to after living
there for several generations! The people who live on that land and who have farmed and developed that land, will lose everything as a result of AgriSol and the government’s intentions.
In a letter to the Prime Minister of Tanzania dated 7 January 2011, AgriSol states to its credit:
- Advancements in farming techniques and
- New seed technology
- Increased value for commodities from a growing world population and from biofuels
None of the above based on countless reports and studies covering other situations is beneficial to the hosting country. Then it boasts a track record on yields that is yet to be born out. Added to this, the letter claims it can ‘unlock potential’ through using GM Maize/corn, and the notorious weed killer that has side effects for the environment as well as the consumer, Monsanto’s Round-up claiming that no falls ill using the tried and tested argument of a growing world population, world hunger, and limited agricultural land with the catch being “food security.”
The promise is that land will be turned into a centre of agriculture using the natural resources and modern farming practices, which one must add has little virtue added to which is the planting of gm crops. This falls in line with U.S. as the largest producer of GM crops which have been
faced with rejection globally to uses Africa as their largest consumer. In the process the ‘investment’ will destroy the land, reduce yields, contaminate natural resources, and Tanzanians will benefit little whilst the profits of AgriSol soars! A letter from the Sierre Club states the following plea:
“Mizengo P. Pinda, Prime Minister, United Republic of Tanzania
Bruce Rastetter, co-founder and Managing Director, AgriSol Energy
Russell Stidolph, co-founder and Managing Director, AgriSol Energy
Blake Franklin, co-founder and Managing Director, AgriSol Energy
Iddi Mohammed Simba, Chairman, AgriSol Energy Tanzania
Bertram Eyakuze, co-founder, Serengeti Advisers
Peter Halloran, Managing Director, Pharos Ag Fund
Subject: We Urge You: Do Not Displace 162,000 People in Tanzania
Sierra Club has recently become aware of plans by AgriSol Energy to acquire 1250 square miles (3250 square kilometers, 800,000 acres) of land in Tanzania, with plans to introduce biofuel production and large-scale industrial agriculture, including introduction of GMOs. We believe that the people most directly affected, including those living on this land, have not been sufficiently apprised or involved in this project which involves relocation of populations, mechanized agriculture, radically restructured economic relationships and genetically engineered crops. Partners such as AgriSol Energy Tanzania / Tanzania Advisors may put a local face on foreign interests but this will not work to the long-term benefit of Tanzania or Tanzanian peoples’ livelihoods.
Our concerns include that this will be a 99 year lease on unfavorable terms, a step back towards Tanzania’s colonial past; that, reportedly, disputes are to be arbitrated under International Chamber of Commerce rules in London, which will further disempower local peoples; that AgriSol has demanded a change from the current prohibition of genetically engineered crops which threaten the local biodiversity and contaminate local crop species; and that biofuel production will subtract from the production of local food calories in favor of an export-oriented product.
On behalf of Sierra Club’s more than one million supporters in the U.S. and Canada, we urge you to step away from this ill-advised project.
Richard A. Cellarius,
International Vice President
85 Second Street, Second Floor San Francisco, CA 94105-3441,
1 Rue Nicholas Street, Suite 412, Ottawa ON K1N 7B7, Canada
One should not assume that because a continent has problems with food security and corruption, and is not as strong in information technology, that it a) doesn’t know anything, and b) will take anything. A fact finding mission in July 2011 by Environcare found that the land to AgriSol is going to be rented for “Tshs 200/= per acre as payment of land rent per year and 500/= per hectare per year for land under cultivation to the Council as fee”.
Yet, the same land currently in use for agriculture and livestock costs 700/= per acre
The fact finding mission summarized the whole scenario as: “The climate crisis was used to boost biofuels, helping to create the food crisis; and now the food crisis is being used to revive the fortunes of GM industry”.
In case of any disputes, the contract states arbitration wll take place in London, U.K., obviously in favour of the company. And that is the crux of the matter! None of the residents have been told anything substantial, let alone consulted. Farmers will be brought in from South Africa to farm the land, because they have the GM crop experience, but so too do South African farmers report falling yields from that experience! As much as 80% of Tanzanians are dependent on agriculture as a means of livelihood, what will happen to that livelihood if the people are hood winked into an investment that will increase the price of conventional foods after making GM foods widely
available, decreasing yields, polluted waterways as a result of GM crops, chronic illnesses as a result of the consumption of GM crops, contaminated indigenous crops which will also decrease in yield, and biofuels which demand a high yield production which also in turn increase the price of foods. This after all is what is happening in the U.S., so why not Tanzania!
“Act Now: Stop Imminent Land Grab That Threatens More Than
162,000 People in Tanzania.” http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/act-now-stop-imminent-land-grab-threatens-more-162000-people-tanzania
AgriSol Energy. “Report to the Prime Minister of The United Republic of Tanzania regarding Proposed Development of Katumba, Mishamo and Lugufu Former Refugee Hosting Areas.” http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/Agrisol%20Presentation%20to%20PM%207%20Jan%202011.pdf
“Imminent Land Grab Threatens 162,000 People in Tanzania.” http://newbusinessethiopia.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=626:imminent-land-grab-threatens-162000-people-in-tanzania&catid=34:agri-business&Itemid=11
Kitabu, G. “Green Revolution or Green Plunder?” http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/Green%20revolution%20or%20Green%20plunder.pdf
Letter from Sierra Club US and Sierra Club Canada: Do Not Displace 162,000 People in Tanzania”. http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/letter-sierra-club-us-and-sierra-club-canada-do-not-displace-162000-people-tanzania
Sitta, S. “Envirocare under Tanzania Land Alliance with HAKIARIDHI, conduct a fact finding mission In Mpanda District.” http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/Envirocare%20under%20Tanzania%20Land%20Alliance%20with%20HAKIARIDHI.pdf