Biofuel and Land-Grabbing in Africa

From the African Biodiversity Network comes a tale of plunder, opportunism, and greed, a story of how biofuels are providing a pretext for privatisation. Full story below the fold.

Press Release Summary

This is the story of how a Norwegian biofuel company took advantage of Africa’s traditional system of communal land ownership and current climate and economic pressure to claim and deforest large tracts of land in Kusawgu, Northern Ghana, with the intention of creating “the largest jatropha plantation in the world”.

Bypassing official development authorization and using methods that hark back to the darkest days of colonialism, this investor claimed legal ownership of these lands by deceiving an illiterate chief to sign away 38 000 hectares with his thumb print.

This is also the story of how the affected community came to realize that, while the promised jobs and incomes were unlikely to materialize, the plantation would mean extensive deforestation and the loss of incomes from gathering forest products, such as sheanuts. When given all the information the community successfully fought to send the investors packing, but not before 2 600 hectares of land had been deforested. Many have now lost their incomes from the forest and face a bleak future.

Those of us involved in this struggle want to tell the story as a warning to other African communities, leaders and policy-makers to be wary of the promises made by biofuel investors and the disasters that their land grabbing may bring. Biofuel land grabbing in Northern Ghana

By Bakari Nyari, Vice Chairman of Regional Advisory and Information Network Systems (RAINS), Ghana and African Biodiversity Network Steering Committee member

Full report here.