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Imminent Land Grab Threatens 162,000 People in Tanzania

October 18, 2011
New Business Ethiopia


Oakland Institute launches campaign against Iowa-based investor Bruce Rastetter and fellow investors in the industrial agricultural corporation AgriSol Energy’s attempt to acquire 325,000 hectares of land in Tanzania that is home to 162,000 people.

According to the institute which launched a campaign against the investmen, the proposed site is inhabited by former refugees from neighboring Burundi.

"Most of the residents, several generations of families, who have successfully re-established their lives by developing and farming the land over the last 40 years, will be displaced against their will. The Inhabitants will lose their livelihoods and their community as a result of this non-socially responsible agricultural investment. Once they are gone, Agrisol Energy will move in.”

Despite rising international criticism of the proposed plan to evict the residents in the proposed lease areas for foreign investors, the Tanzanian government plans to move forward with the project, according to the press statement Oakland Institute dispatched this morning.

The statement from the institute indicated that AgriSol has promoted this large-scale land acquisition as a project to transform Tanzania into a “regional agricultural powerhouse” by combining the country’s abundant agricultural natural resources with “modern” farming practices, including the use of genetically modified crops.

“Unfortunately, AgriSol’s plans--which include seeking Strategic Investor Status from the Tanzanian government that would grant them tax holidays and other critical investment incentives (including waiver of duties on agricultural and industrial equipment supplies, export guarantees, and certainty for use of GMO and Biotech and production of biofuels), while generating tremendous profit for the investors will do little, if anything, for Tanzanians. On the contrary, it is likely that if this land deal goes ahead it will set a precedent for future land rights abuses,” the institute noted.

“We fear that this project could move quickly forward unless the Tanzanian government and the US investors realize that the world is watching. We ask that you join the Oakland Institute in holding Bruce Rastetter and AgriSol team accountable and send them the message that proceeding with their plans is.”