Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform

Madagascar: threat of large-scale land acquisition by foreign companies

EMERGENCY NETWORK 0911AMDG 16.07.09
Monday 20 July 2009 by LRAN

In November 2008 it was revealed that the Korean company Daewoo would have signed a contract for leasing 1.3 million ha for 99 years to produce maize and palm oil in Madagascar. The whole harvest was intended to be exported to Korea and the terms of the contract were skewed in favour of the company.

La Vía Campesina

International Operative Secretariat

Jalan Mampang Prapatan XIV No 5

Jakarta Selatan 12790, Jakarta - Indonesia

Tel +62 21 7991890

Fax +62 21 7993426

viacampesina@viacampesina.org

Contact Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform viacampesina_cgra@amnettgu.com

Tel: +504 235 9915 //+504 232 2198

 

FIAN

International Secretariat

P.O. Box 10 22 43

D – 69012 Heidelberg - Germany

Tel + 49 6221 65300 30

Fax +49 6221 830545

fian@fian.org

Because of the threat on the right to food of the Malagasy people and on the right of all peoples to freely dispose of their land and natural resources, opposition to this project arose among the Malagasy population. The Collective for the Defence of Malagasy Land has addressed several petitions to the Malagasy government demanding the immediate stop of all land lease projects and the revision of laws allowing foreign companies to acquire or lease land.

Please send letters to the president of the Malagasy High Authority of the Transition, Mr Andry Rajoelina, supporting these demands. Please also send letters to the president of the Republic of Korea recalling its extra-territorial human rights obligations in these projects. Please send copies of your letters to the Collective for the Defence of Malagasy Land and to the Coalition Paysanne de Madagascar.

Background

In Madagascar 37% of the population is undernourished and two-thirds is affected by poverty. The majority of the Malagasy population is rural: approx. 73% of the population lives in rural areas and mainly relies on agriculture and rural development for their livelihoods.

In November 2008 the Financial Times revealed that Daewoo Logistics, a subsidiary company of Daewoo International Corporation signed a contract in July 2008 for leasing 1.3 million ha for 99 years to produce maize and palm oil. The whole harvest was intended to be exported to Korea. The rented area corresponds to half of the arable area of the country. The terms of the contract do not foresee any financial counterpart paid to the Malagasy State. The lease fee would consist in investing in the infrastructures necessary for the realization of the project.

This project fits into the rural development strategy which had been pursued by the government of President Marc Ravalomanana. According to the Madagascar Action Plan 2007-2012 which is considered the second-generation Poverty Reduction Strategy, attracting foreign investment to increase production for export was seen as key engine for the transformation of the country. Modernisation of the land tenure system and of agriculture was identified as main focus of action to promote agribusiness. Since 2003, International Finance Institutions exercised pressure on the Malagasy government to formalise and regularise traditional systems of land tenure; and to allow granting of lands to foreign investors. With the support of the Millennium Challenge Account, which is part of the US official development aid, the Malagasy government started a programme to computerise land property and topographic records, to reform the legal framework, and to decentralise land tenure management. Besides that, during 2007 and 2008 several laws were passed to foster foreign investment. Law N°2007—036, for instance, allows foreign natural or legal entities land leases for a maximum of 99 years. Companies operating under the Malagasy law, whose management is controlled by foreign citizens or organisations depending on foreign citizens are authorised to acquire immovable property though.

Whereas the applications for land granting or acquisition by foreign investors are expeditiously dealt with, Malagasy small farmers meet insurmountable difficulties to get title deeds of their lands.  There are reports of granting traditional land to investors without the consent of the local population. Customary leaders who have publicly questioned this practice have been threatened.

The Daweoo project announced by the press sparked strong opposition among the Malagasy population. Their major concerns relate to the future existence of a homeland for all the Malagasy who consider the lands of their ancestors as a “sacred” good; to the dispossession of  numerous peasant families from the lands where they live and work; to compromising national sovereignty by granting huge tracts of land without any public discussion; to the fear that genetically modified corn could be planted, that cultivating corn in the Western part of the island might dry out lands and that palm oil monocultures could destroy biodiversity. Moreover, the whole maize and palm oil production was supposed to be exported not and therefore not contributing at all to the food availability in the country. Future Madagascar Entreprise Group, Daewoo representative in the island, has already acquired 94 182 hectares in the district of Brickaville, 33 767 ha in the district of Toamasina II, 40 000 ha in the district of Vatomandry, more than 50 000 ha in the district of Maintirano. Other demands of acquisitions are registered for the benefit of several companies.

In the course of the mass demonstrations which led to the coup d’etat against President Ravalomanana, the Daweoo project was identified as one of the main grievances against the government. In March 2009 the president of the High Authority of the Transition, Mr Andry Rajoelina, announced that the Daewoo project would be cancelled. Nevertheless, no formal confirmation of the contract cancellation has been given to the public yet and several sources in Madagascar informed that the Daewoo affiliate has only changed its name (now known as Madagascar Tsaku SARLU) but is going on working at various places.

The mandate of the Emergency Network

Madagascar is a State party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and, is therefore duty bound to respect, protect and fulfil the right to food and the right to freely dispose of the natural wealth and resources of its population. Granting large-scale land leases to foreign companies can lead to massive dispossession of land, water and other food producing resources by small farmers and other land users like pastoralists. On the other hand, large-scale land acquisition by foreigners can constrain the national capacity to produce food for the current generation and for future generations as well. For those two reasons, large-scale land acquisition poses a threat to the right to food and connected rights of the affected population.

Korea is also state party of ICESCR and is duty bound to protect the right to food of people living in other countries in cases where Korean companies might threaten, for instance, the existing access to land of these people. Since Korean companies have signed contracts of land acquisition or lease not only in Madagascar, but also in other countries like Sudan and Russia, the Korean government is obliged to ensure proper regulation of these activities in order to avoid forced evictions and other threats to the right to food.

Deadline: August 31, 2009

Addresses:

Mr Andry Rajoelina

President of the Malagasy High Authority of the Transition

Palais présidentiel d’Ambohitsirohitra

B.P. 955 - Antananarivo 101

Madagascar

Fax (+261) 20 22 562 52

Please send the letter in French below

Mr Lee Myung-Bak

President of the Republic of Korea Blue House

1 Sejongno Jonno gu

Seoul Korea (110-820)

Fax: +82 2 770 4943

Collective for Defence of Malagasy Land

Maison des associations du 11ème arrondissement. Boîte n°89 – 8, rue du Général Renault – 75011 Paris - France

patrimoinemalgache@gmail.com

http://terresmalgaches.info

Coalition Paysanne de Madagascar

Lot IV I 133 Mandialaza Ambodivona

BP 7061 Antananarivo

Madagascar

cpm@wanadoo.mg


Translation of the letter to the President of Madagascar

 Dear Mr President of HAT,

 I recently heard that Daewoo Logistics, a subsidiary company of Daewoo International Corporation would have signed a contract in July 2008 for leasing 1.3 million ha for 99 years to produce maize and palm oil in Madagascar. This project sparked strong opposition among the Malagasy population. Their major concerns relate to the future existence of a homeland for all the Malagasy who consider the lands of their ancestors as a “sacred” good; to the dispossession of  numerous peasant families from the lands where they live and work; to compromising national sovereignty by granting huge tracts of land without any public discussion; to the fear that genetically modified corn could be planted, that cultivating corn in the Western part of the island might dry out lands and that palm oil monocultures could destroy biodiversity. Moreover, the whole maize and palm oil production was supposed to be exported and therefore not contributing to the food availability in the country.

The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization of the High Authority of the Transition has recently informed that a contract for the prospection of lands that would be adequate for the projected plantations has been signed between Daewoo, the Malagasy State and the concerned regions.

Madagascar is State party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and is, therefore, duty bound to respect, protect and fulfil the right to food and the right to freely dispose of the natural wealth and resources of its population. Granting large-scale land leases to foreign companies can lead to massive dispossession of land, water and other food producing resources by small peasants and other citizens. Yet, the granting of authorisations for large-scale land acquisition by foreign investors or their subsidiaries can undermine or destroy the national capacity to produce food for the current generation and for future generations as well. For those two reasons, the granting of authorisations for large-scale land acquisition represents a threat to the right to food and related rights of the affected population.

I would therefore like to ask you, Mr. President, to take the appropriate measures in order to:


- officially confirm that the leasing contract with Daewoo has been cancelled (and more generally that any contract is cancelled and the project with Daewoo is abandoned) so that your announcement of the 18th of March 2009 in this regard will become effective.

- stop all ongoing procedures and cancel any authorisations for prospection or acquisition already granted to this company of to its representatives in the country;

- revise law 2007-036 which facilitates in a unacceptable way the granting of lands to wealthy investors, in particular agricultural land;

- to ensure a national and participatory debate on investment for agriculture and mining;

- to guarantee adequate land policies and laws which increase access to land and tenure security of Malagasy families and small farmers; Please keep me informed about all measure you take in this regard.

Yours sincerely


Mr Andry Rajoelina

Président de la Haute Autorité de Transition

Monsieur le Président,

J’ai récemment été alerté sur le fait que la société Daewoo Logistics, une filiale de la société transnationale Daewoo International aurait signé, en juillet 2008, un bail de location mettant à disposition 1,3 million d’hectares sur 99 ans afin de produire du mais et de l’huile de palme à Madagascar. Ce projet a rencontré une vive opposition de la part de la population locale.  Les principales inquiétudes concernent la possible existence future d’un pays sans terres pour les Malgaches qui considèrent la terre de leurs ancêtres comme sacrée. Ces inquiétudes se concentrent aussi sur la privation pour de nombreuses familles paysannes de leurs terres sur lesquelles ils vivent et travaillent ; sur la mise en péril de la souveraineté nationale par l’allocation de terrains gigantesques sans aucune consultation publique préalable ; sur la peur que des OGM soient plantés, considérant que la culture de maïs OGM dans la partie ouest du pays pourrait assécher les terres et que la monoculture de l’huile de palme pourrait détruire la biodiversité. De plus, tout le mais et l’huile de palme cultivés étaient supposés être exportés et donc n’étaient pas censés contribuer à garantir une plus grande disponibilité de la nourriture dans le pays.

Le Ministre de l’Aménagement du Territoire et de la Décentralisation de la Haute Autorité de la Transition a récemment précisé qu’un  contrat de prospection de terrains favorables aux cultures projetées était intervenu entre la société Daewoo, l’Etat malagasy et les Régions concernées.

Madagascar est une Etat partie au Pacte International relatif aux Droits Economiques, Sociaux et Culturels et a donc l’obligation de respecter, de protéger et de réaliser le droit à l’alimentation ainsi que le droit de disposer librement des richesses et ressources naturelles nationales. Mettre à la disposition des investisseurs étrangers d’immenses surfaces de terrains pour location peut conduire à une dépossession totale des terres, de l’eau et des autres ressources nécessaires à la production de nourriture pour les petits paysans et autres citoyens. D’un autre côté, la délivrance d´accord d’acquisition de terres à grande échelle à des investisseurs étrangers ou à leurs filiales qui vont exporter toute la production peut restreindre (voire anéantir) la capacité pour les nationaux de produire de la nourriture pour les générations actuelle et futures. Pour ces deux raisons, la délivrance d’autorisation d’acquisition de terres à grande échelle est une menace pour le droit à l’alimentation et autres droits de la population locale.

J’aimerais par conséquent, Monsieur le Président, vous demander de bien vouloir prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires afin de :


- confirmer officiellement l’annulation du bail de location, la résiliation de tout contrat et l’abandon du projet avec Daewoo., afin que votre annonce du 18 Mars 2009 devienne effective ;

- arrêter toutes les procédures en cours et d’annuler toutes les autorisations de prospection ou d’acquisitions déjà délivrées à cette compagnie ou à ses représentants

- réviser la loi 2007- 36 qui facilite, de manière choquante,  la cession des terres à des riches investisseurs, particulièrement la cession de terres agricoles ;

- garantir un débat national et participatif sur l’investissement dans l’agriculture et dans le secteur minier;

- garantir des politiques et lois territoriales équitables augmentant l’accès aux terres et la sécurisation des titres de propriété des familles malgaches et des petits agriculteurs.

Merci de me tenir informé de toute mesure prise dans ce sens.

Veuillez agréer, Monsieur le Président, l’expression de mes sentiments distingués.    ----

Mr Lee Myung-Bak

President of the Republic of Korea   Mr President,

I recently heard that Daweoo Logistics, a subsidiary company of Daweoo International Corporation signed a contract with the Malagasy government in July 2008 for leasing 1,3 million ha for 99 years to produce maize and palm oil in Madagascar. This project sparked strong opposition among the Malagasy population. Their major concerns relate to the future existence of a homeland for all the Malagasy who consider the lands of their ancestors as a “sacred” good; to the dispossession of numerous peasant families from the lands where they live and work; to the fear that genetically modified corn could be planted, that cultivating corn in the Western part of the island might dry out lands and that palm oil monocultures could destroy biodiversity. Moreover, the whole maize and palm oil production was supposed to be exported and therefore not contributing to the food availability in the country.

Korea is state party of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and is therefore duty bound to protect the right to food of people living in other countries in cases where Korean companies might threaten, for instance, the existing access to land of these people. Since Korean companies have signed contracts of land acquisition or lease not only in Madagascar, but also in other countries like Sudan and Russia, I’d like to ask you, Mr. President, to take the appropriate measures in order to:


-           ensure proper regulation of Korean companies investing in agriculture abroad  in order to avoid forced evictions and other threats to the right to food of communities living in other countries;

-           prioritise in your domestic and foreign agricultural investment policies support  to small-scale agriculture;

-           take into consideration in your investment policies the right of all peoples to freely dispose of their natural resources.

Please keep me informed about all measure you take in this regard.

Yours sincerely,


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