“Full speed ahead with the ProSavana!” is the position of the Mozambican government, despite the agricultural project raising a chorus of criticism. The farmers say their land is in danger, but their rulers deny it.
The Mozambique government has reiterated that it will move forward with ProSavana despite criticism from the farmers, saying that the agricultural project is in an “advanced stage”. ProSavana infrastructure has already been installed in the north of Mozambique, with a laboratory for analysing land quality already in operation in Nampula.
Deputy National Director of Agriculture Jeremias Chaúque explains that the lab “analyses soil to assess its suitability for certain crops. This is the only way to determine scientifically the appropriate crop for a particular place”.
ProSavana has come under fire from small farmers who fear losing their land in project deployment zones. Amade Suká works for the non-governmental organisation Action Aid and has been following the process.
“We run the risk of having peasant families losing their land, and if they lose land, they lose their source of income and increase the level of poverty,” Suká says.
But according to Deputy National Director of Agriculture, Jeremias Chaúque, nobody will lose their land, contrary to what civil society maintains. “Our dream is to transform the small subsistence farmer into a market-oriented farmer,” he says.
Government accuses civil society of disorganisation
With the project ready to move forward, the government criticises civil society for wanting to make it untenable, accusing it moreover of disorganisation.
Chaúque argues that “there was a time for the design process of the master plan to involve civil society. Public tenders have been launched and one of the organisations has won, but they do not recognise the entity selected amongst themselves”.
Activists however insist that Mozambican land law is not being observed. According to critics, land is often assigned to multinationals without communities being consulted, and a civil society campaign to inform the population of its rights has been under way since 2014.
Action Aid’s Amade Suká says the population has been protected when there are land conflicts with multinationals, and its information campaign ends this October.