mongabay.com | June 19, 2009
Despite violent protests that have left more than 100 dead and led to the ouster of a democratically-elected president, Daewoo Logistics Corp. continues to hold 218,000 hectares of cropland in Madagascar, according to a new campaign by Rainforest Rescue.
Last year Daewoo, a South Korean firm, signed a 99-year lease to 1.3 million hectares of agricultural land in Madagascar, roughly half the island nation's arable land. The agreement, signed by the President Marc Ravalomanana, was widely condemned and sparked an uprising that eventually led to a military coup by Andry Rajoelina, the 34-year-old mayor of Madagascar's capital. Shortly after taking control one of Rajoelina's first measures was to repeal the Daewoo deal.
But now Rainforest Rescue reveals that the Daewoo deal may not be as dead as previosly reported, with Daewoo continuing to "surreptitiously hold some 218,000 hectares of appropriated land."
The original deal
As reported last year, Daewoo originally planned to plant corn on 1 million hectares in the arid western part of the island and 300,000 ha (740,000 acres) of oil palm on land in the tropical east, a region that is home to the bulk of Madagascar's rare rainforests. The company would produce the food for export and import workers from South Africa.The deal was criticized on the grounds that it failed to recognize customary land use by local people and threatened to consume vast areas of cropland in a country that can barely produced enough food to feed itself. Most Malagasy — as the people of Madagascar are known — live on less than a dollar per day and nearly half of the country's children under five years of age are malnourished.