Read at :
REDD+ in Mozambique: new opportunity for land grabbers?
Submitted by Isilda Nhantumbo
Land is cheap and is perceived to be abundant in Africa. A scramble for its land, following the food and fuel crisis three years ago, is on. European and North American companies have been acquiring land to grow export and biofuel crops and to supply their need for pulp and paper. Now they’re being joined by newly emerging economies – in particular Brazil, India and China – which are also increasingly acquiring large tracts of land and searching for other natural resources, in particular water and minerals.
A land grab is on in my own country, Mozambique. For example, the government of Mozambique is allocating 60,000 km2 of land (7.6% of the country) in four of its provinces – Nampula, Niassa, Zambezia and Cabo Delgado – to 40 Brazilian farmers for commercial soy cultivation to supply the ever-expanding Chinese market. The land would be granted for 50 years, with the lease renewable for a further 50 years. The Mozambican government says that the investment will bring benefits to the country: “Brazilian farmers have accumulated experience that is very welcome” said Mozambique’s agriculture minister, José Pacheco in this article. “We want to repeat in Mozambique what they managed to do in the Brazilian ‘cerrado’ 30 years ago,” Pacheco added.
These plans threaten to convert the rich forests found in the provinces of Nampula, Niassa, Cabo Delgado and Zambezia into soy plantations. These provinces are already under enormous pressure due to activities such as commercial agriculture, industrial plantations, logging, biofuel farming and mining.
Hopes dashed for Mozambique
Having worked on community-based natural resources management for many years, I always felt that there was a missing link between efforts to change unsustainable land use practices, such as slash and burn agriculture and charcoal production, and the need to compensate for the resulting benefits of maintaining those resources sustainably, such as carbon stocks, watershed maintenance, biodiversity, etc. When sustainable forest management efforts to mitigate climate change evolved into REDD+, my optimism that something fundamental was about to change for the better was renewed.