Verdade (Maputo)

5 June 2014

Mozambique: Civil Society Tries to Fight Prosavana

After several failed attempts and faced with the reluctance of the Mozambican government to advance the project, on Monday June 2nd, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) re-launched a campaign in Maputo called "No to ProSAVANA". The campaign aims to halt the implementation of ProSAVANA, which forecasts the production of food crops on a large scale in the Nacala corridor.

The project is backed by the governments of Japan, Brazil and Mozambique and is budgeted at millions of US dollars. It is expected to focus on the provinces of Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia, Niassa and Tete, targeting the districts of Monapo, Muecate, Meconta, Nampula, Mogovolas, Murrupula, Mecubure, Ribaue, Lalaua, Malema Cuamba, Mecanhelas, Madimba , Ngauma, Lichinga, Majune, Sanga, Gurue and Alto Molucue. According t o agriculture analysts well versed in the project, ProSAVANA will cause a considerable number of people, especially farmers, to lose their land.

CSOs and farmers have opposed ProSAVANA since its unveiling and demand that it be suspended or that its approach to occupying land be altered. Their campaign aims to mobilize citizens and to enable farmers and affected communities at risk of losing their lands to stage a protest against the project's implementation.

Ana Tawacale, a farmer and a member of the National Farmers Union (UNAC), said that some areas in Nampula have already been taken over for the implementation of this program.

In turn, Jeremias Vunjane, a member of the Academic Association for Rural Development (ADECRU), stated that in Zambezia province authorities threaten to arrest farmers who try to resist adhering to the project's demands.

Alice Mabota, President of the Mozambican Human Rights League, has no doubt that the fight against the usurpation of land in this part of the country will be arduous and will be deadly. She indicated that the ProSAVANA represents a step backwards for the country, as it will leave many families without land to produce their food. "The matter of usurpation of farmers' land is extremely serious and will lead to death. This is a fight we will face but people are going to die because the people of ProSAVANA are used to expelling farmers by force. There are farmers and human rights activists who are going to die. We are aware of this," warned Mabota.

The campaign will be publicized through various media outlets, videos, cultural activities, music, seminars and other channels of communication. For activist and member of Environmental Justice (JA), Vanessa Cabanela, there are no free lands in the areas pursued by ProSAVANA. She emphasizes, "You cannot deploy agribusiness in this region without displacing p eople from their land. There's talk of involving the farmers [in high level project discussion], but how will that be done? How will the rights of farmers be protected?"

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