The government of Mozambique is considering a plan to lease 240,000 hectares (a hectare is about 2.47 acres) of farmland to investors to grow crops for export, according to leaked documents. The move threatens to displace more than 100,000 residents. What is being called the Lurio River Valley Development Project would produce cotton, corn, sugar, ethanol and livestock for export.
The proposed project is among a series of “major foreign-based agricultural” projects planned for Africa. Proponents say such projects “will bring jobs and boost land productivity.” Opponents fear the projects will displace local residents and farmers.
“This is a secret (plan), no consultation, (and) no published information from the government,” Tim Wise, director of Tufts University’s Global Development Institute, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Officials at the country’s agriculture ministry did not make a spokesperson available to comment on the proposed project.
Wise also told Reuters that “to increase food production, the government should invest in local farmers…”
Mozambique remains one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking near the bottom of international indices gauging poverty.