Land grabbing is a becoming a well-known issue worldwide that is occurring persistently in Africa. Foreign investors are coming in and buying large amounts of property for personal profit. These foreign investors come from a large global range of geographic location, which includes the United States. Due to the variety of investors major differences are seen between the current situations in Tanzania compared to the situation in Kenya (“Klopp:2000: 1”).
Kenya’s land grabbing is primarily focused on public market places and national forests whereas Tanzanian land grabbing is focused on the agriculture sector for Tanzania. Tanzania is looking for large-scale corporations funded by foreign investors to buy huge portions of land in order to vacate small local farmers from producing. In recent years over four million acres of land have been requested by foreign investors for both Agrofuel and food production in Tanzania.
The issue becomes controversial because the government believes they are benefitting from foreign investors by lowering food prices and stimulating the economy; while it is also harmful because it exiles small local famers from their land preventing their production of crops and condensing the profits into commercial farming and personal benefit. Foreign investors and the government both have economic benefits from land grabbing. There are multiple foreign investors that have acquired land from Tanzania, such as Sun Biofuels from United Kingdom, Swedish company scenery, and Agricola from the United States.
Recently the media has been primarily interested in focusing their attention on foreign investors in Agrisol. Agrisol is an Iowa based Investment Company that specializes in Agribusiness. The ultimate goal for Agrisol is to find “underdeveloped global locators that have attractive natural resources but lack in agriculture technology, farming techniques, equipment, and management”(Dan Rather Report: 2012). The three perspectives interest sights in Agrisol are Lugutu in Kigoma Province (25,000 ha), Katumba (80,317) ha, and Mishamo (219,800 ha) (Dan Rather Report 2012).
Agrisol has recently purchased the land of a refugee camp in Tanzania and established agreement with the Tanzanian government that the Burundian refugees will be forced to relocate before Agrisol will start its large commercial farming. The Burundian refugees range from a total of 160,000 people and they have been living there for decades, there only mechanisms of survival is living off the land and the displacement from their farms is detrimental to their survival.
Agrisol sees this agreement as positive because they purchased the land for 25 cents per acre and is supported by the government because of the potential creation of jobs and ultimately lower food prices (Dan Rather Report: 2012). The theoretical idea that is most beneficial for the government in terms of the transformation of Tanzania’s economy is to transform the country by lowering food prices and transitioning to capitalist wage labor economy. The government wants to start large-scale commercial farming in order to stop small local farmers who do not benefit the government from free riding off the land.
The Tanzanian government wants to eradicate the small local farmers so that they can move out of the rural areas into the cities in order to get an education and transform their country into a capitalist economy. The Tanzanian people are skeptical of this so-called economic transformation because the foreign investors are untruthful about “boosting food security and creating jobs are totally unacceptable because there is no evidence to suggest that it would work for the people of Tanzania or for the people who have been displaced from their land.
The Tanzanian National Business Council took the initiative to start developing public-private partnerships, which has been a steady reoccurrence and “is a classic case of colonialism, and is theft of the highest order” (2012, “US Firm”). The public-private partnership has the goal of creating future aid to Agrisol in three different types of production: larger-scale cultivation, such as food grains, beef and poultry production, and soy and maize production. Agrisol is on the track to launch a one hundred million dollar investment in Tanzania over the next ten years.
The stated aim of the program is to “help stabilize local food supplies, create jobs and economic opportunity for local populations, and spur investment in local infrastructure improvements”(2012,“US Firm”). The government supports the idea that the partnership with Agrisol will be a strong foundation to establish a more successful capitalistic economy. The major issue occurring from land grabbing deals is the impact occurring farmers and markets. Local farmers are unable to compete with the technology that large-scale commercial farms have access to.
The small local farmers do most of the work with basic technology which is drastically less advanced, some local farmers even go back to using their hands for planting seeds (2012, “Tanzanian National Website”). These local farmers have surrounded themselves in an area where they can survive off the land and be able to sell the rest of their surplus crops to the local market allowing them to have a sustainable income. With large-scale commercial farming being implemented into the economy, these local markets will be out of business.
The government’s agreement with Agrisol, can be contradicted because it states that an exporting license seems to infer with the promise of consistent supply of food to the Tanzanian citizens. The life of the small local farmers has been disregarded and the government is uninterested in how to help them survivor. The agreement allows Agrisol be able to obtain a guarantee from the government for an exporting license that allows the continuous production of food from Tanzania even through Tanzania itself could be in a possible economic deficit and have lack of food supply for local citizens.
Large scale farming in Tanzania has also caused a high risk for potential environmental issues to arise. The most significant negative factor to the environment is the over usage of the land which makes the soil unfertile and able to grow crops. In the past this occurred with the UK based company, Sun Biofuels, through their growth of Jatrohpha. The company ultimately went bankrupt and lost all of their money while in the long run the Tanzania people did not benefit at all.
The government “role of state machinery (laws, institutions, resources) has changed from protection of majority small producers interests (as in 1970 and 80’s) to facilitation of the few elite and foreign companies to acquire land from communities”(Ruhiye: 2012: “Farmlandgrab. org). Sembuli Masasa is a father of seven children, who has been farming in Katumba for over forty years helps run a small nursery plant for their neighborhood, growing a range of crops from peanuts to pineapples.
If US investors secure this land he and his seven children will have to move and start a new life with only $200. His nursery produced 40% of food to the district, without this nursery their neighborhood will no longer have enough food to survive and survival will be a struggle for the entire surrounding community (Dan Rather Report: 2012). Foreign investors hope that these farmers will abandon their previous lifestyle and stop supporting local markets to work for huge commercial farmers that pay minimal wage and have excessive working hours.
When farmers started to work on investors plantations it decreased food production on village farms and that led to food shortages, which actually increased food prices instead of causing the predicted decrease. Regions of land then become a food deficit with no production and the citizens can then no longer afford food and their health and chances of survival becomes an increasingly higher risk. (Ruhiye: 2012: “Farmlandgrab. org”) The history of foreign investors in Tanzania is an unfortunate reality for the citizens.
The people who have been living in these areas are being seeked out by foreign investors pushes them out and allows the investors to take over not only financially but also physically. The increase of large-scale commercial farming creates potential profits of $275million dollars annually, but the benefits only go to the individual private investor rather than the entire country. Even though the government is making small revenue from the deal it is not worth putting small local famers and Tanzanian locals out of their homes, which they have lived there all their life.
The people are in poverty and can no longer live off the land to survive; exiling them from their land will only cause food security and chaos because they have no where to go and no other labor skills other then agriculturally based ones. These so called refugees have been apart of Tanzania much longer than these huge private investors and the government should be protecting the people of the land not exiling them from their homes and communities for a marginal profit.
Courtney from Study Moose
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