Small Peasants, Big Plantations: Negotiating Land in Rural Mozambique
The Mozambican government has marked Niassa province to promote commercial, large-scale tree plantations. The biggest plantation in the area is owned by a company called ‘Chikweti Forests of Niassa.’
A 2010 government investigation had reported that the company had acquired over 32,000 hectares of land illegally, mostly at the expense of small farmers.
Last month, three farmers from Niassa visited The Netherlands. They met government officials, politicians and ABP, the Dutch national pension fund. ABP is the biggest investor in Chikweti Forests.
While denying the land-grabbing accusations, ABP did accept that Chikweti falls below international standards of sustainable forestry. As the majority stakeholder, it assured the farmers it was pressuring Chikweti to bring greater benefits to local communities.
This gave the farmers some assurance. But till these benefits materialize, they cannot help being cautious and skeptical.
In the video Small Peasants, Big Plantations, both parties present their accounts of the dialogue.