Mozambique


“And when it’s time for leaving Mozambique,

To say goodbye to sand and sea,

You turn around to take a final peek

And you see why it’s so unique to be

Among the lovely people living free

Upon the beach of sunny Mozambique”

Bob Dylan, 1975

 

 

One of the biggest and latest issues related to Africa and especially Mozambique is management and legal regime of the common land. Land grabbing is usually related to various forms of common property over land. Common property is the very first form of regulated property from pre-republican times in Ancient Rome. Even nowadays, most places have commons. Naturally they vary in size from English common greens to Romanian mountain pastures and even to the largest rainforests.

Africa has got most of the land in some form of common property or ownership. Four fifths of the African continent, that is almost 2 billion hectares is owned formally by the state via its sovereignty. There are no legal titles but inhabitants regard these lands as theirs, consider themselves to be the traditional owners of not just a plot, a house or a farm, but of forests, pastures and other such collective value that fall in the domain of the community.

Indeed, pastoralists or forest dwellers and gatherers occupy a lot of the surviving commons on the planet. They spend most of their lives away from urban agglomerations, away from main roads, thus ignoring national state laws and hence state boundaries. They are not outcasts but an integral part of African [national] societies. African politicians, however, consider that “people of the commons are historical leftovers, wild people who need to be tamed and settled, brought within national laws and norms. For their good and for ours,” (Alden Wily for Fred Pearce in “The Landgrabbers. The New Fight Over Who Owns the Earth”, Transworld Publishers, London, UK, page 340)

The World Bank has named that land ‘the world’s last great reserve of underused land’, empty plots waiting for ‘development’.

In this context, news from Mozambique made the business headlines when it had declared six million hectares of ‘empty land’ open to foreign investors on leases extended to 50 years. The yearly rent will rise up to $23 per hectare. Over 40 Brazilian soy croppers expressed their interest in this business.

 

Fall for Biofuels

By far the most dramatic story is that of Sun Biofuels in Africa and particularly in Mozambique.

[Analysis to follow]

 

Background

THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS APPROVED A RESOLUTION ON POLICIES AND STRATEGY FOR BIOFUELS ON THE 24 OF MARCH OF 2009, AS MENTIONED IN THE BOLETIM DA REPUBLICA (Mozambique’s Official Gazette).

STRATEGIC TARGETS, OVERALL, AIM AT:

  • REDUCTION OF GHG EMISSIONS: ENERGY SECURITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
  • REDUCTION OF RISKS CAUSED BY ENERGY PRICE INCREASE AND DEPENDENCY ON FOSSIL FUELS

IN 2007 THE GOVERNMENT COMMENCED A PROGRAM OF ZONING AND PARCELING OF THE COUNTRY’S TERRITORY (ZONEAMENTO – THE PROGRAM IS ONGOING). IT ENTANGLED LAND SUCH AS:

  • AGRICULTURE WITH OR WITH OUT PUMP SYSTEM
  • NATURAL PRODUCTIVE FLOREST
  • RESTRICTED NATURAL AREAS
  • PASTORAL AREAS FOR CATTLE AND HERDING
  • COMMERCIAL REFORESTATION
  • ENERGY CROPS FOR PRODUCTION OF BIOFUELS

THE BIOFUEL STRATEGY IS BROKEN DOWN INTO TWO STRANDS: BIOETHANOL PRODUCTION (SUGAR CANE AND SWEET SORGHUM) AND BIODIESEL PRODUCTION (JATROPHA)

FURTHERMORE, BIOFUELS ARE PERCEIVED AS AN ESSENTIAL ACTIVITY FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR THAT CAN BE ON THE LONG TERM DEVELOPED BY PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS. THE STRATEGY ALSO MENTIONS:

– ENCOURAGEMENT OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

– STRENGTHENING OF COOPERATION WITH PARTNERS FROM THE DEVELOPED WORLD

– STRENGTHENING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF MECHANISMS AND INSTRUMENTS OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL TO ENCOURAGE THE RAPID DEVELOPMENT OF PRODUCTION AND USE OF BIOFUELS, CONTRIBUTING TO AN EFFECTIVE REDUCTION OF GHG EMISSIONS (!)

 

Table indicating landgrabs by the end of 2010. Source: GVC Mozambique

AGRICULTURAL SECTOR RISES UP TO 23% OF THE COUNTRY’S GDP AND IS THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF INCOME IN MOZAMBIQUE. ALSO,

  • 3.6 MILLION HECTARES ON 36 MILLION HECTARES OF ARABLE LAND USED FOR FARMING AND
  • 97% OF THE CULTIVATED LAND IS USED IN FAMILY-BASED SMALL-SCALE FARMS.

IN TOTAL, THIS SECTOR ENCOMPASSES AROUND 3 MILLION FAMILIES WITH AN AVERAGE FARM SIZE OF ABOUT 1.24 HECTARES, 87% ARE DEPENDENT ON AGRICULTURE FOR THEIR LIVELIHOODS AND SELF-PRODUCE 75% OF THEIR FOOD NEEDS.

 

THE SUBSISTENCE FARMING SECTOR DOES NOT PLANT JATROPHA IN MARGINAL SOILS, BUT IN GOOD ARABLE LAND, DIRECTLY REPLACING FOOD CROPS, REASON FOR THIS IS THAT SUBSISTENCE FARMING IN MOZAMBIQUE IS VERY LABOR INTENSIVE, MAKING TIME ONE OF THE LIMITING FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE MAXIMUM AREA THAT A FARMER AND HIS FAMILY CAN MANAGE. 

FARMERS DO NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES AND THE CAPACITY TO COPE WITH EXTRA FIELDS OF JATROPHA AND WILL HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN DIFFERENT CROPS (ENERGY CROPS VS. FOOD CROPS), MAKING EACH HARVESTER A DIRECT COMPETITOR.

THE PRICE FOR ENERGY CROPS WAS AROUND 2 USD/KG DURING YEAR 2006, THAT IS OVER 1.5 USD/KG HIGHER THAN OTHER FOOD CROPS SUCH AS MAIZE, BEANS AND CASSAVA.

 

REAL LIFE SITUATION IN BRIEF:

  • USE OF ARABLE LANDS INSTEAD OF MARGINAL ONES
  • LARGE USE OF CHEMICALS, FERTILIZERS AND PESTICIDES
  • HIGH WATER CONSUMPTION
  • LACK OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION KNOWLEDGE AND TECNHOLOGY
  • LACK OF MARKET PLACEMENTS AND MARKETING
  • DEEP CORRUPTION