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!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Has the Tanzanian state confiscated the land of Ecoenergy?

Ever since 2009 we have been a group of concerned Swedish and Norwegian scholars that have followed the plans to establish a Swedish sugar plantation outside Bagamoyo in Tanzania, by the Swedish SEKAB company, later reorganised as Agro Ecoenergy. We wrote an opinion piece in 2009 the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. The involvement of Swedish municipalities and of Swedish aid has one very important reason for raising awareness in Sweden about this case of land grabbing that would force a large amount of smallholders to leave their land. The case has also been the target of Swedish investigative journalism in TV program Uppdrag granskning.

Previous posts on this site are:

june 2016: End of road for Ecoenergy?
March 2016: Sida critised by National Audit for their Ecoenergy support
March 2015: Time running out for Ecoenergy?
April 2014: More iconic farming images
April 2014: Funny pictures about farming
March 2013: Swedish land grab in Tanzania causes protests

On two previous occasions we have almost declared the death of this project first following the withdrawal of Swedish Sida support in 2015 and then in June 2016 following the declaration by the prime minister in Tanzanian parliament that the environmental concerns for wildlife would stop the project.

It will be a future research task to find outwhat has really happened with this project since president Magufuli took over from Kikwete in November 2015. It now seems that the environmental concerns against this project voiced by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in parliament in June may just have been a smokescreen for other things going on. According to Daily News in August the president offered 10 000 hectares of land in Bagamoyo to Cuba for a sugar plantation. Since then there have been press reports that the president has offered 10,000 hectares of land in Bagamoyo for sugar plantations to the Tanzanian Bakhresa group.

In todays edition of East African Business Times the circumstances around the 10,000 hectares of land in Bagamayo are reported like this:

“The ministry has opened dialogue with existing sugar producers in a bid to address the challenges farmers face in a bid to increase production through government support,” says Mwijage, adding that the ministry is currently implementing a presidential directive to set aside land in Bagamoyo District for local investor Bakhresa Group of companies to set up sugar factory. The plot of land was offered to the company after the government confiscated it from its previous owner who failed to use it for the benefit of the country."

Although Ecoenergy is not mentioned in this article I can only find this to mean that the Tanzanian government has indeed confiscated the land to which SEKAB/Ecoenergy had a long-term lease on the former RAZABA ranch. If this is true it means that the Tanzanian government is not so concerned about neither the wildlife nor the local smallholders, but is ready to give the land to national agrobusiness interests rather than to Swedish.


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