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Iowa Investors in Large 'Land Grab' in Tanzania, Refugees to Lose Homes

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By Fungai Maboreke, Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Oct. 25 (GIN) - A group of Iowa-based investors is winding up a deal with Tanzania for an 800,000 acre parcel, now home to over 160,000 people.

Several generations of families, former refugees from Burundi, who have successfully re-established their lives by developing and farming the land over the last 40 years, will be displaced against their will. They will lose their livelihoods and their community. Once they are gone, AgriSol Energy will move in.

According to the AgriSol, an investment company, the land deal will benefit local farmers, increase food and energy security in the area, maintain sustainable farming practices, and offer “opportunities to buy commodities at production cost.” But AgriSol will have the final say in all matters.

“Locals will have little to no bargaining power, and any development opportunities for local farmers will be on terms set by AgriSol,” the Oakland Institute said. Similar deals have been struck to increase production of biofuel crops.

A letter to AgriSol from the environmental Sierra Club notes: “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.

A write-in campaign by Oakland asks the company to drop the initiative. It can be found at www.oaklandinstitute.org.

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0 # Guest 2011-11-03 17:04
Drop this initiative. Africa is one of the last continents with vast natural resources, plants, and animals whose natural balance of life will ultimately be disturbed and contaminated with the continued invasions of corporations. Have we not learned yet. The preservation of people and land is more important then the expansion of companies. Avatar was just a movie but the message is real. You contaminate mother earth, you are killing us. AVATAR AgriSol AVATAR!.

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