Farmlands, or agricultural landscapes, captures the interest of a number of researchers based at the Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University. On this blog we share information about research findings, activities, events and comments related to our work.

Our interest in farmlands has three roots: farming, landscape and society.
Farming as a practice, including farmers knowledge and labour investments
Landscape as society-nature relations, congealed history, and as space and place
Society as a short form for institutions, gender relations, political economy and scientific relevance

Most Welcome to FarmLandS!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

End of road for EcoEnergy?

Remember the Swedish company Sekab that cheated three public energy companies in northern Sweden into investing substantially in ethanol production in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, some fifteen years back? The company secured vast tracts of land, which allegedly was unused. However, it turned out that people were in fact living on the land, and cultivating it, and that it also was important grazing land for pastoralists who had been forced off their grazing areas in Hanang District by commercial grain production.
The ethanol project never got off ground and the Swedish tax payers’ money went down the drain.
Sekab’s Tanzanian wing reappeared as a new company EcoEnergy. Now ethanol was no longer on the agenda. Instead EcoEnergy wanted to start conventional sugar production in Bagamoyo, promising increased land productivity, sustainable livelihoods, and a growing local economy.  However, soon reports appeared (from ActionAid, Oxfam and others) that local farmers lost land and water without being aware of what was happening and that they did not understand the loan agreements they became tied to. Despite considerable criticism against the company’s plans EcoEnergy managed to get Sida to issue a bank guarantee for this project at 120 000 000 SEK.
The Tanzanian daily The Citizen (20 May 2016) now reports that Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has told Parliament that the government has shelfed the plans for the sugar plantation project in Bagamoyo to safeguard Wami River and the Saadani National Park, which borders on the proposed 20 000 ha sugar project.
Is this the end of EcoEnergy’s decades of attempts to exploit the disputed land in Bagamoyo? Will their investors, now that no incomes for the company are to be expected, secure their money by claiming Sida’s bank guarantee? This would mean that Swedish tax payers have once more lost very substantial sums to a project that from start was heavily criticised by Tanzanian and international researchers and by environmental organisations.

1 comment:

  1. The Wami River is a small river. By drawing upon surface water for irrigation for water-intensive sugarcane, a cash crop that just enriches the company, there will not be adequate water to maintain the ecosystem of the river and especially the estuary. High flows are necessary in the wet season, as the maintenance of low flows in the dry season. The estuary is critical for coastal fisheries and livelihoods. It is a very laudable move by the Govt of Tanzania to shelve this project.