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American Bio-Energy Firm in Trouble in Tanzania

July 17, 2012
Latitude News


by Ben Taub


An American bio-energy firm that touts its social mission could kick more than 160,000 farmers off their land in Tanzania.

AgriSol, a company with offices in Alden, Iowa and Rowayton, Connecticut, is leasing hundreds of thousands of acres in Tanzania. The company claims its mission is to ”improve food security…the health of Tanzanian children, and the livelihoods of the smallholders around our farm.”

But an independent think tank tells Inter Press Service that AgriSol’s land deal with the Tanzanian government will do just the opposite for thousands of Burundian refugees who fled genocide in 1972 and have farmed the Tanzanian land since then.

The refugees recently became naturalized Tanzanian citizens, but they don’t have any legal claim to the land where they make their livelihoods. The Tanzanian government owns all land within the country’s borders and merely leases it — or in the case of the Burundi refugees, allows people to live and farm on it.

AgriSol would pay just 25¢ an acre to lease as many as 800,000 acres from Tanzania, reports the Oakland Institute, an American think tank that has been investigating AgriSol’s Tanzania activity. Displaced refugees are given just $200 each, the Oakland Institute report says.

The Institute also alleges that AgriSol wants to make changes in Tanzania’s bio-safety regulations in order to grow crops in protected forests and wetlands. The company could net as much as $300 million a year from the deal, according to disclosures.

Larry Ginter, a retired farmer in Rhodes, Iowa, told Inter Press Service, “This is a classic case of colonialism, and is theft of the highest order.”

AgriSol claims to have halted operations in the refugee settlements. Follow the link at Straight to the Source for more.