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Madagascar: to eat or to be eaten

land spooner

By Vahinala Douguet.

With 92% of the population living below the poverty line (1), Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries. But is also rich in natural resources, biodiversity and fertile farmland. Mining and oil industries, investors in tourism and agribusiness sectors have set their eyes on them, but the process of cultivating these riches to the benefit of all is totally derailed. Malagasy civil society wants to alert the public, local and international opinion, to the extent of the land grab in Madagascar and the increasing evidence of many social and environmental injustices that are arising. The political conflict that has persisted in the country since 2009 only reinforced this situation. There’s a total lack of transparency on contracts and areas of land actually granted to foreign investors and corruption is everywhere.

In less than ten years, agricultural land granted by the Government of Madagascar, often unilaterally and completely opaque, has run up to hundreds of thousands of hectares (2). In a country where more than 70% of the population is rural and where one farmer has an average of only 0.15 hectares of land to cultivate (3), this poses a serious ethical problem. The Land Matrix, a global and independent monitoring initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in decisions over land and investment, has currently revealed 12 signed contracts from 2006 to 2013. Other organizations such as GTZ, GRAIN or CIRAD suggest several additional contracts. See the table below for the compilation of procurement contracts for land investment in Madagascar.

According to TANY, the Collective for Land Defence in Madagascar (4), the land issue in Madagascar is very worrying. They feared serious consequences for the local communities already weakened by poverty and sometimes without any legal protection. Most lands “eyed upon” by investors are public lands, therefore belonging to the state. So, communities that have lived there for ages can be evicted at any time. TANY also points out that on top of land granted to foreign investors, there are many oil and mining projects, land being reserved for tourism and even as “carbon sinks” – all adding to the prevailing land scarcity and threat to food security. As if that is not enough, local media recently reported about big new projects with Malaysia, for the production of palm oil (5). The United States and Malaysia are the top two landgrabbers in Africa, according to a report of the International Land Coalition (6). In addition, the oil palm cultivation is very controversial because of social conflicts and dramatic environmental consequences that may result. This is the case for example in Indonesia (7) and Malaysia itself where there has been massive deforestation, accompanied by a significant decline in biodiversity. It is urgent that discussions about the relevance of these agricultural and energy projects are initiated at the national level, involving civil society, scholars, the private sector and the Malagasy government. Local people should be better informed of the exact content of these contracts and the benefits and potential risks arising.

(*) Vahinala Douguet is PhD in ecological economics and researcher at the University of Versailles Saint Quentin. As EJOLT’s collaborator, she is conducting an inventory of the environmental injustices in Madagascar and mapping environmental conflicts in Madagascar. She has already entered some case studies in the EJOLT database: the QMM/Rio Tinto mining project in Taolagnaro, the MAINLAND mining project in Manakara, the TOZZI GREEN agrofuel project in Ihorombe, Tar sands project with TOTAL, the WISCO Soalala mining project, the MASOALA illegal logging, the MIKEA mining project, SHERRITT Ambatovy,…

(1) http://www.banquemondiale.org/fr/country/madagascar/overview

(2) http://www.landmatrix.org/get-the-detail/by-target-country/madagascar/

(3) Sources: FAO, INSEE-Eurostat, Statistiques mondiales Madagascar, INSTAT (2010)
(4) TANY is very active in lobbying for institutional transparency of land access contracts and the systematic involvement of local people as a negotiating actor.

(5) “La Malaisie s’intéresse à Madagascar”, article du 14 août 2013, La Gazette de la Grande Île: http://www.lagazette-dgi.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=33652:huile-de-palme-la-malaisie-sinteresse-a-madagascar&catid=45:newsflash&Itemid=58

(6) International Land Coalition, 2013, Annual Report 2012, 44p.

(7) For more details: Pichler M., 2010, Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 3(2), «Agrofuels in Indonesia: Structures, Conflicts, Consequences, and the Role of the EU».

Surface

Investors

Purpose for demanded land

Duration

where

1,300,000 ha

DAEWOO Logistics

(South-Corea)

Agrofuel

(Maize and palm oil)

99 years

SUSPENDED

Regions of Melaky and Menabe (maize)

Regions of SAVA and Atsinanana (palm oil)

550,000 ha

GEM Biofuels

(UK, Ireland)

Forestry

Jatropha

Cotton, manioc

unkonwn

Atsimo Andrefana region

550,000 ha

Hunter Resources

(UK and Northern Ireland)

Agriculture

ABANDONNED

Mahajanga

465,000 ha

VARUN Industries

(India)

Agriculture

(maize, rice, lentils)

50 years

Will be abandonned in 2014

Sofia Region

200,000 ha

Madabeef

(UK, Madagascar)

Livestock

unknown

Regions of Menabe and Atsimo Andrefana

150,000 ha

Unitech and United Technologies Group

(USA)

Sunflower for oil production

unkown

Diana, Sofia, Bieny and Melaky

120,000 ha

Bio Energy Limited

(Australia, Madagascar)

Region of Sofia

100,000 ha

TOZZI Holding group

(Italy)

Biofuels and agriculture

(jatropha, geranium, vetiver)

30 years

Ihorombe

30,000 ha

Fuelstock Madagascar

(UK and Northern Ireland)

Agriculture
Agrofuels
Food crops

unknown

Farihy Amboromalandy

20,000 ha

Indian Ocean Commission (COI)
(France/Reunion, Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles, Madagascar)

Agriculture

(Rice and onions)

unknown

Regions of Sofia, Vakinankaratra and Menabe

20,000 ha

Mada Woodland

(Norway)

Forestry

Biofuels

unknown

Mahajanga
Mampikony

15,000 ha

Platinum Madagascar SARL

GEXSI (Germany)

Futuro Forestal (Panama)

Agriculture
Agrofuels

Region of Boeny

15,000 ha

Société Malgache de Collecte et de Transformation de la Résine (SMCTR) – DRT

(Madagascar, France)

Forestry

unknown

Moramanga

10,000 ha

COMPLANT Madagascar Sugar Co. Ltd

China National Complete Plant Import & Export Corporation

 (China)

Agriculture
Agrofuels

unknown

Region of DIANA

10,000 ha

SUCOCOMA

(China)

Sugar

unknown

Regions of Diana and Menabe

6,000 ha

SODHAI

(Inde, Madagascar)

Agriculture
Food crops

unknown

High Plateau (Analamanga)

5,000 ha

Landmark

(India)

Agriculture
Food crops

unknown

Ihorombe

4,500 ha

SoaBe

(France)

Oil plants, cereals, vegetables

unknown

Atsimo Andrefana Region

3,000 ha

Jatro Solutions
GreenIsland Madagascar

(Germany, Madagascar)

Agriculture
Agrofuels

unknown

Region of Haute Matsiatra

1,000 ha

Domaine du Lemurien

(Mauritius)

Vegetables and aquaculture

unknown

Region of Anosy

1,000 ha

Monteverde

(Mauritius)

Potatoes and potato seeds

unknown

High plateau (Analamanga)

300 ha

Caille Group

(Reunion)

Agriculture
Food crops

ABANDONNED

High Plateau (Tampoketsa)

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