Japanese experts’ analysis: "The Concept Note for formulation of agricultural development Master Plan in the Nacala Corridor”

Landgrab-Japan | 20 December 2013 | 日本語



Japanese Experts’ Analysis

"The Concept Note for Formulation of Agricultural Development Master Plan in the Nacala Corridor”

(as of Dec.20, 2013)


General Comment

1. Overall Comment

The Concept Note (CN)1 which was formulated by the ProSAVANA-PD and was announced on and dated September 2013, maintains the same concept of the ProSAVANA-PD’s Report No.2 (2013 March) prepared as a “blue print” for the Master Plan, a copy of which was obtained by civil society2. However, due to recent international criticism, the presentation of agrobusiness participation and land acquisition within the project are now either evaded or treated in a hidden way. Instead, a strategy of “agricultural revolution” is proposed. This is described as “implementing the program of registering DUAT of the individual farmers, and demarcating and fixing the use right of the cultivated land, so as to clarify the area of unused land”. It is claimed that this portion of land will then induce agricultural investment, and such strategy forces the small scale farmers within the target area to transform their farming into a so-called “high-input high-productivity type of agriculture”. However, such a strategy of coercing small farmers to drastically transform their farming practices to a high-input type of agriculture is likely to subordinate them to agribusiness through one-sided contract farming or to lead to the loss of their lands.


2. General Problems –CN’s propositions concerning smallholder farmers

In this Concept Note (CN), a kind of “agricultural revolution” which may be equated to “green revolution” is proposed regarding the agricultural practices and the norms of landholding systems. This is actually the focus of the CN. Simply stated, it proposes a “transformation from shifting cultivation to settled farming." In order to stress this point, the CN emphasizes that “shifting cultivation prevails in the Study area, and it is characterized by low productivity, unable to contain land degradation, and as the population increases rapidly, the fallow period in the shifting cultivation will be drastically shortened." It is portrayed as inevitable that this system will collapse (p.7-9).


Also, the CN relies on an outdated understanding that shifting cultivation is responsible for the reduction of forest (p.8), despite new studies that shows the main culprit to be corporations and other actors. CN argues that the transition to settled agriculture is unavoidable and supports this idea with macro data on regional food production and population increases between 2011 and 2030, comparing the figures based on the present cultivation method and the would-be figures of settled agriculture (Annex 2). However, if deforestation is considered an urgent problem, then why are the target and methods of forest protection not shown? Large scale agriculture has already destroyed thousands of hectares of forests within a year, but this is not mentioned at all.


We can discern that the introduction of the “green revolution” concept here does not originate from a pressing urgent need of the farmers, but originated from the general view of the authors, which is rather like a philosophy. The problem is that this concept was adopted as the central proposition for urgent and immediate action for the development program. The truth is that the present agricultural system of small farmers in the area is not a pure shifting cultivation, but has moved to a partly settled type of farming: the housing compound of a family is usually settled, and the farmers have been practicing a rotational use of farm land by cultivating pieces of lands for some years and resting them as fallow lands for other years (This is well known, but for reference see the report of the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) written by R. Yamada and S. Tobita). There are many types and stages of shifting cultivation, but the argument in the CN is presented in a very simplified way.


If a drastic change is enforced on the small farmers, who are the majority of the farmers in the target area, it is certain that it will cause a great upheaval in the lives of the inhabitants and a major disruption of socioeconomic conditions. Agricultural production will stagnate, contrary to the expectations of the CN. This is a legitimate concern.


Analysis of the content of the Concept Note

1. Problems with the Missions and Objectives (pp.1 -2)

(1) Contradiction of missions: agricultural production already “diverse”, and problem of monocropping agricultural investment not mentioned.

In the mission statement, two action points are proposed.

  1. Modernize agriculture to increase productivity and production volume, and diversify agricultural production.

  2. Create employment through agricultural investment and establish supply chains.


The first point contradicts the content of the plan. The current agricultural production in the area is already diverse, but the acceptance of agricultural investment is likely to result in the introduction of monocropping. The argument which says that attracting agricultural investment and creating supply chains will create immediate increases of employment opportunities is overoptimistic.


(2) Objective is to “create new agricultural models”, but what are current production systems and what about past models?

The entire CN treats rural (Northern) Mozambique as if there are no agricultural “models” other than “shifting farming by small farmers”, and no agricultural “models” imposed on local farmers in the past. It shows that the ProSAVANA-PD team does not understand what kind of agricultural production systems exist and have existed in the area, and what are the advantages and challenges with them. At present, agricultural systems suitable for small farmers are still being experimented and tried.


(3) No analysis on root causes for the lack of “distribution of the fruits of the recent economic growth” (p.1), but assumption that rural poverty is mainly due to lack of productivity of small farmers.


(4) ProSAVANA’s aim is to “increase and stabilize the farmers’ profit” through “improving agricultural technology” (p.2), ”high-input” oriented “agricultural revolution” is deemed the only way to achieve such stability, but it is widely considered to be a source of instability due to dependency on outside resources and market fluctuations.


(5) “to give maximum consideration to protecting the rights of local inhabitants for use of those resources” (p.2), but “Who” does ”What”, “How” are not clarified.

The prioritization of small farmers is not mentioned anywhere, but (a) “a competitive environment” and “all categories of farmers” are emphasized; (b)the role and responsibility of public sector is not mentioned in this regard; (c) any possible negative impacts by private investment and large farmers are arbitrarily ignored. Yet, the CN describes the local small farmers as the only and main actors causing environmental damages due to their “shifting cultivation".


2. Outline of Target Area (pp.3-55)

(1) It doesn’t explain why ProSAVANA included the districts outside of the Nacala Corridor.

It was requested by Brazilian actors (esp. EMBRAPA), in order to include non-populous regions for “large-scale commercial farms"


(2) Detailed data on local farmers (including distribution) not shown although 99.89% are small farmers, and there are only 6 and 35 large farms in entire Niassa and Nampula provinces respectively.

If the Note is prepared for discussions and dialogue on the agricultural development in the area, it is obviously crucial to share basic data on local agriculture. Especially, data on number of farmers and farms in each category and their land distribution is indispensable. But such data is not included in the CN although it is widely available, and listed in ProSAVANA-PD, Report 1.


Only the percentage of small farms in each province and the average cultivated land are listed (p.8). However, the District Profiles made in 2005 explicitly cite “unequal distribution of land” between large and small farms. This point is not mentioned at all in the entire note.


Instead, the low literacy rate (difference in gender) is listed as if this was a more important statistic for understanding local agricultural systems..


(3) It should also be mentioned what kind of people are owning these large farms and what kind of social relations exist between them and local inhabitants if ProSAVANA is serious about “protecting the rights of local inhabitants” as promised in the previous section. Yet, such attempt is totally absent not only in this note but also in other ProSAVANA-PD reports.


3. “Present Conditions and Issues” (3. pp.6-12)

(1) farmers are viewed as targets of “surveys” rather than as “agencies of sovereignty ” (p.6)


(2) The problems regarding “participation” and “dialogue” are not mentioned anywhere, but still listing “numbers” of “participants” in meetings are emphasized.

The frameworks (announcement, duration, material distribution) of “stakeholder meetings” were criticized repeatedly, and they are not considered to be a mechanism of “meaningful participation” for famers/civic organizations.


(3) No mention of why ProSAVANA-PD had to carry out “district meetings”, but only emphasizes that a “total 1755 participants attended these meetings”. (p.7)

The meetings were carried out due to raising voices and criticisms from farmers/civic organizations, but the CN merely says people were “allowed to express their comments, desires and concerns”.


4. All problems attributed to the practices of local farmers (pp.6-7)

(1) The note states that farmers in the study area should understand the ongoing situation that the land is going to be saturated….losing the base to continue” However, the Note started this section saying that relatively low population densities have allowed local farmer to continue the shifting cultivation. Nothing is said about recent and current “land grabbing” of large areas by investors (including domestic actors)l.

If land scarcity is the focus of ProSAVANA and Nacala Corridor development Master Plan, it can suggest a “moratorium” or “prohibit” land investment, but no such measure is proposed. Instead it only proposes prohibiting the farming practices of local farmers.


(2) Criticizing those farmers “not seriously recognizing” the problems of “shifting farming”, and not interested in “using inputs and technology for the production increase”. (p.8)

There have been many discussions regarding this point, but the CN implies that local farmers are ignorant and are thus not taking any measures. The rational behind the practice of rotational use of land is not considered. The CN calls the kind of agriculture which relies on inputs such as “improved seeds” and chemical fertilizers as “sustainable agriculture”. However, from the small farmers’ point of view, this kind of agriculture is not sustainable at all.


(3) “Potential risk” of “soil deterioration” caused by a “shortened fallow period (p. 8)

This is a long term consequence but not an immediate problems. The following questions could be drawn from the descriptions given in the CN. What about “modern” agriculture promoted by ProSAVANA and conducted by large-scale farms already in the region? Is ProSAVANA or the Master Plan going to regulate their land-grabbing and deforestation because of “potential risk”? Why do more corporate farms need to be promoted?


(4) No explanations about gender in the production, marketing and consumption of agricultural products. How can it then talk about “poverty reduction” and “livelihoods”?


5. “Win-Win Relations” between small farmers and agribusiness? (p.10)

(1) The Note proposes to construct “win-win relations” between small farmers and agribusiness (p. 10), and examples are cited about contract farming and out-grower schemes.

However, in order to make mutual “wins” possible, it is imperative for the government to intervene strongly (for instance, assisting small farmers’ side at the time of making contracts). In the present situation, there is an overwhelming power difference between the two. It is probably impossible to expect the government to make such assistance. The government is enthusiastic to facilitate large corporations, and rather inclined to protect their benefits.


(2) Problems of favorable considerations towards agribusiness

This can be seen on the following points.

(a) The idea of “zoning” which was explained in the above cited ProSAVANA-PD Report No.2 was inherited by this CN, although this time there was no mention of a particular category of agency or institutions which are expected to lead development in particular zones (pp.13-17).

(b) The Note still does not see the necessity of the rights of local farmers for the determination of “zoning”.

(c) The idea of zoning is connected to the creation of value-chains (pp.17-18), and the formulation of the cluster system development (pp.19-24).

(d) There is a total absence of any questioning regarding problematic aspects of value chains such as monopoly formation for each product, the elimination of competition, priorities given to exports, the allocation of profits, the attribution of blame for the cause of losses to the farmers, etc.


In addition to these problems, the use of “zoning” in past World Bank programs has been severely questioned and contested by local residents. (e.g. Inspection Panel’s report on Democratic Republic of Congo: Transitional Support for Economic Recovery Credit Operation (TSERO) and Emergency Economic and Social Reunification Support Project (EESRSP).)


6. Roles and Benefits of Key Actors in the Master Plan Implementation (pp.24-26)

The key actors are listed as: 1)Farmers (small, medium, and commercial); 2) the Public sector (government); 3) the Private sector; 4) Civil Society (NGOs, university); 5)Development partners (cooperation partners such as international institutions, donor countries).


(1) No differentiation between small, medium and commercial farmers

Although it is mentioned that “Farmers are the main actors of development”, it does not differentiate between “small”, “medium” and “commercial” where 99.89% of the farmers in the north belong to “small” farmers.


(2) “Livelihoods” and “economic activities” in the same sentence and no explanation about “self-sustained” economic activities related to the market


(3) Small farmers are not prioritized actors, and are presented as not knowing “sustainable farming”

“Small farmers” are not considered to be prioritized actors for the implementation of the Master Plan, rather they are portrayed as the only actor that generates problems. It strongly puts the responsibility on them for the necessity to change “subsistence farming” to “sustainable farming”. However, “subsistence farming” and “sustainable farming” are not contradictory. Sustainability for farmers should be more thoughtfully considered.


(4) The Public sector is to create favorable conditions for creating “a competitive environment”, but its role and responsibility to create and maintain an “environment” that protects the rights of small farmers, women and the most vulnerable is not mentioned.

Only “ensuring the rule of law and good government” is mentioned, and without clarifying whose rights should be protected and ignoring the unequal power and capacity among them.


(5) No mention of the role of farmers organizations as key actors or protectors of the rights of farmers is made.

In order to achieve a power balance with large corporations, this must be a desirable objective.


(6) Role of Civil Society mentioned, but should government should be sincere is respecting it.

The CN says Civil Society contributes to the transparency of the Master Plan through independent monitoring and regular dialogue (p.25). But such role must be respected in practice.


7. Social and Environmental Consideration (pp.26-27)

(1) JICA’s New Guidelines was never explained to local residents and civil society, and no Portuguese version is available

It is mentioned that “JICA’s New Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations (2010)3 are applied throughout the study” (p.26).

However, the JICA Guidelines were never adequately explained to local residents or civil society organizations, and its Portuguese version (in the Mozambican official language) is non-existent despite repeated requests by Japanese civil society for sharing the Portuguese translation. Thus, the rights of local people to have “Information” about and to raise “Objections” to the JICA Guidelines have not been fulfilled.


(2) “ProSAVANA-PD’s studies on environmental and social considerations” not open to the public

Although the CN mentions that “important features for environmental and social considerations in Nacala Corridor are being studied” (p.26), there have not been any reports open to the public to examine the validity and adequacy of these studies, and the assumption that all the environmental and social damages are due to “shifting cultivation” conducted by small scale farmers.


(3) “Potential negative impacts” eliminate real negative impacts occurring on the ground

The potential negative impacts (marked using “x”) are arbitrarily chosen based on whether they prevent activities of investments.

“Negative Impacts on Natural Environment” does not list the following items:

a) loss (not only deterioration) of biodiversity

b) loss of carbon dioxide absorption by forest

“Negative Impacts on Social Environment” eliminates the following items as “potential risks”:

c) detrimental to cultural or historical heritage

d) involuntary resettlement

f) serious change in lifestyle

g) marginalization of vulnerable groups

h) widening of gender inequity

It also excludes the following items:

i) not adequate compensation for resettlement

j) degradation of quality of life

k) creation of corruption and corrupted social structure


The above phenomenon is occurring along the Nacala Corridor due to rapid entrance of investment (including contract farming), and it is generating serious negative impacts over people’s lives, society and the environment. This section is not transparent and accountable enough since it is not clear how and on what basis the ProSAVANA-PD team identified and evaluated the “potential negative impacts” shown in the matrix.


8. The problems concerning DUAT acquisition (pp.16-18, p.23)

The first priority of the development strategy towards small farmers according to the proposals of the CN is DUAT (land use title) acquisition. It claims that in order to protect the right of use of the land by small farmers it is necessary for them to acquire DUAT titles.


However, according to the Land Act 1997 of Mozambique, the right of small farmers over lands that they have used and occupied is recognized legally, even if it is held under customary practice.


Article 12 of the 1997 Land Law states as follows:

The right of land use and benefit is acquired by

  1. occupancy by individual persons and by local communities in accordance with customary norms and practices which do not contradict the Constitution.

  2. occupancy by individual national persons who have been using the land in good faith for at least ten years.

  3. the authorization of an application submitted by an individual or cooperate person in the manner established by this Law.


Also Article 13 states :

  1. The absence of title shall not prejudice the right of land use and benefit acquired through occupancy in terms of sub-paragraphs a)and b) of the previous article.


Therefore, a small farmer can continue to use his or her land without acquiring a DUAT title if he or she meets the above condition. This means that if the government attempts to force a farmer to acquire DUAT title, it is likely that there is a hidden agenda. It may be that the government is trying to make the farmers’ land as small as possible so as to release the land outside the DUAT and reserve it as unused land for meeting future demands from other persons. or corporations.


9. The area of farmer’s right of use under the DUAT acquisition

When considering the DUAT acquisition according to the right given under the customary law, if there is a community to which a farmer belongs as a member, and the land of the community has been delimited, there is no need for the farmer to register an individual DUAT. However, if a farmer does not belong to any functioning community, it may become necessary to register an individual DUAT.


When considering the experiences of other African countries, an individual land title registration is likely to take several years. With individual land rights, care must be taken that the area of a farmers’ DUAT is not limited to his or her present area of cultivation. A farmer has the use right of his or her fallow land, and maybe also those of wood lands and pasture lands. These portions of land may increase the space of a farmers’ DUAT more than 4 times the area of present cultivation. These lands are quite necessary for the farmer’s living, and within a community these are taken care of. Also there is a problem of land fragmentation. A farmer may be planting different crops to different soil types to benefit from crop characteristics, and DUAT acquisition should care for such a situation. Moreover, with new generations of farmers there arises the need for expansion of the use of the land, and this may cause land conflicts with neighbors. All in all, the demarcation of the area of a DUAT is a very time consuming exercise. The reason that the land reform is scheduled to be carried out in the beginning of QIP (Quick Impact Projects) seems to suggest that there is another motivation.

In this regard, it is important not to disconnect discussions related to the ProSAVANA program and to the Master Plan for agricultural development of the Nacala Corridor area from wider global, regional and national trends and realities. (e.g. G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition4, Nacala Fund5 and other investment oriented initiatives). While there are currently a lot of debates on land and seeds issues not only in Mozambique but also in Africa, the processes of building national consensus are ignored in the CN.

It should also be noted that differences among the 19 target districts of ProSAVANA are not considered in the CN. Instead, the CN assumes that there is only one method of agricultural production conducted in the entire area by all local farmers and one type of challenge faced by them, thus one sort of solution (green revolution and DUAT acquisition) fits all.


10. Problems concerning Contract Farming (p.10, p.19)

Contract farming between agribusiness and farmers (small, medium, and large) is positively encouraged by the CN, as it secures the access to agricultural inputs and markets by farmers, and as a method to facilitate the creation of value chains. The CN tries to initiate the quick introduction of settled agriculture by combining contract farming with DUAT acquisition. This formula is apparent in the example of the ProSAVANA Development Initiative Fund (PDIF) project, which was started as an experiment. However, many problems have been pointed out from the past examples of contract farming6. These include (a) purchase of farm products from the contracted farmers at low prices, (b) forcing farmers to purchase specific seeds and other agricultural inputs, (c) compelling farmers to take responsibility in case of breach of contract (especially vulnerable with climate change), and (d) land confiscation due to the failure to repay debts. It is essential for the government to implement a system of supervision to prevent these malpractices.

Dec. 20, 2013


Dr. Masao Yoshida (Africa Japan Forum)

Dr. Koichi Ikegami (Kinki University)

Dr. Sayaka Funada Classen (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)

Ms. Masako Yonekawa (Rikkyo University)

Ms. Naoko Tsuyama (Peace Institute, Meiji Gakuin University)

Ms. Naoko Watanabe (Japan International Volunteer Center)

1 https://www.prosavana.gov.mz/index.php?p=biblioteca&id=6

2 http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4703-leaked-prosavana-master-plan-confirms-worst-fears

3 http://www.jica.go.jp/english/our_work/social_environmental/guideline/index.html

5 http://allafrica.com/stories/201207061132.html

6 Isabela Nogueira de Morais (2013) “Agricultural systems with pro-poor orientation in Mozambique? ProSAVANA and the forgotten risks of contract farming”, UN/WIDER Conference on Inclusive Growth in Africa: Measurements, Causes, and Consequences Helsinki, 20-21 September 2013.


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