October 20, 2011
Mizengo P. Pinda, Prime Minister, United Republic of Tanzania
Bruce Rastetter, co-founder and Managing Director, AgriSol Energy
Russell Stidolph, co-founder and Managing Director, AgriSol Energy
Blake Franklin, co-founder and Managing Director, AgriSol Energy
Iddi Mohammed Simba, Chairman, AgriSol Energy Tanzania
Bertram Eyakuze, co-founder, Serengeti Advisers
Peter Halloran, Managing Director, Pharos Ag Fund
Subject: We Urge You: Do Not Displace 162,000 People in Tanzania
Sierra Club has recently become aware of plans by AgriSol Energy to acquire 1250 square miles (3250 square kilometers, 800,000 acres) of land in Tanzania, with plans to introduce biofuel production and large-scale industrial agriculture, including introduction of GMOs. We believe that the people most directly affected, including those living on this land, have not been sufficiently apprised or involved in this project which involves relocation of populations, mechanized agriculture, radically restructured economic relationships and genetically engineered crops. Partners such as AgriSol Energy Tanzania / Tanzania Advisors may put a local face on foreign interests but this will not work to the long-term benefit of Tanzania or Tanzanian peoples’ livelihoods.
Our concerns include that this will be a 99 year lease on unfavorable terms, a step back towards Tanzania’s colonial past; that, reportedly, disputes are to be arbitrated under International Chamber of Commerce rules in London, which will further disempower local peoples; that AgriSol has demanded a change from the current prohibition of genetically engineered crops which threaten the local biodiversity and contaminate local crop species; and that biofuel production will subtract from the production of local food calories in favor of an export-oriented product.
On behalf of Sierra Club’s more than one million supporters in the U.S. and Canada, we urge you to step away from this ill-advised project.
Richard A. Cellarius, International Vice President
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