Thanks to the comprehensive property rights that we enjoy in the US today, our homes and livelihoods are protected from being seized by large corporations.
Unfortunately, throughout much of Africa, this threat is a daily reality. Although laws designed to protect individuals’ and communities’ land rights exist, governments are often too weak to properly enforce them, resulting in overrule by foreign investors and large companies looking to buy out farming areas with very little consideration for those who already inhabit them.
Though these land grabs are common in a number of countries, the attempt by US agriculture giant Agrisol Energy to acquire 800,000 acres of land in Tanzania is perhaps one of the most disturbing recent examples of the practice. Currently under negotiation by the corporation’s co-founder Bruce Rastetter and representatives of the Tanzanian national government, the proposed project would result in the devastating loss of 162,000 homes that have seen progressive agricultural growth for the past 40 years.
Luckily, the Oakland Institute, a policy think tank, has raised the alarm to initiate international pressure against the proposals, and has exposed the destructive nature of Agrisol’s deal despite their best attempts to market it as a transformational tool to modernize local farming.
Because the deal will displace so many stable communities without compensation or their consent, it is clear that the acquisition will have few, if any, positive outcomes for Tanzanians or Burundian refugees who have settled in the area. And now, given the crucial role that agriculture plays in ensuring long-term growth for food security, improved nutrition and trade, the need to take action against Agrisol is an immediate and urgent one.
Stay tuned for more updates. And take a minute to read more about land grabs and learn what you can do to stop them on the Oakland Institute’s website today. Putting an end to this practice could help save the livelihoods –- and lives –- of thousands.