Press Release: Investigation Reveals that Land Grabbing in Mali Threatens the Niger River and the Lives of Millions of West Africans
Oakland, CA – As farmer groups and civil society organizations from around the world gather at the International Conference on Land Grabs from November 17-20 2011 in Nyeleni, Mali, The Oakland Institute and the National Farmers Organisation Coordination (CNOP) of Mali are releasing a new report on land grabs in the west African country. Comprendre les Investissements Fonciers en Afrique: Rapport Mali is an updated, French version of the Oakland Institute's Understanding Land Investment in Africa: Mali report that was published earlier this year.
This comprehensive report analyses the current trend of agricultural land investments in Mali, revealing that by the end of 2010 at least 544,567 hectares of fertile land have been leased or were under negotiation for lease in Mali. Despite the limited availability of arable land in Mali and dramatic hunger figures, more than 40% of deals will devote land to agrofuel crops—which are unlikely to benefit those suffering from hunger in Mali. These land acquisitions involve violent and flagrant abuses of human rights and the report documents attacks on smallholder populations in the irrigated agricultural zones of the Office du Niger. Most of the large-scale land acquisitions are concentrated in state-owned lands within the large, riverine delta of the Office du Niger, where informal customary rights of the local people are not protected by law, and are not recognized by public officials.
While the government of Mali justifies the massive leasing of lands with the need to “modernize” Malian agriculture, plans for large-scale irrigated agriculture pose great risks to the survival of populations dependent on the water flows of the Niger River in Mali as well as in the rest of West Africa, where over 100 million people depend on the river for their livelihoods.
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