Swedish aid investment resulted in land-grabbing

Sveriges Radio | Wednesday 02 May 2012

Swedish aid investment resulted in land-grabbing

The Swedish aid organisation Swedfund invested millions of dollars in companies that are supposed to produce ethanol in Sierra Leone. But since the company took over farmland the local population faces a lack of food. Now the poor inhabitants are turning to Sweden for help.

"We are asking for help. We have nothing," Mari Fona told Swedish Radio News.

Land used by Fona and other villagers to grow food was taken over by Addax bioenergy, which has planted sugarcane that's used for bioenergy and sold in Europe.

"We don't have any rice to eat. People go to bed hungry," Fona says.

In November last year the state-run aid organisation Swedfund invested $1.5 million US dollars in the Addax bioenergy in Sierra Leone.

Swedish Radio News took a closer look at what the aid money is being used for. The poor farmers say that they were talked into approving the contract that allows the company to rent the land for 50 years. The farmers earn 3.20 US dollars a year per acre of land. The same is happening in all of the villages.

Anders Craft, acting president of Swedfund, says the company is putting a lot of resources into solving the problems. "I'm not saying there aren't any problems, but the company's intentions are good," Craft told Swedish Radio News.

Original materials in Swedish: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=5090706

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