Al-Khorayef Group plans for Soy in Chaco, Argentina

Description
In October 2010, in a meeting with the Governor of the Argentine Province of Chaco, Jorge Capitanich, and Saudi Sheik Mohammed Al-Khorayef put forward a proposal for 40,000 hectares to be used for a large-scale project to produce food for export to Saudi Arabia as part of King Abdullah Initiative for National Food Security. On February 22nd, 2011, representatives of Al-Khorayef Group signed an agreement with the Chaco government for a $400-million agricultural project in which the company would be allocated rights over 200,000 ha of farmland in the El Impenetrable region of the province to produce crops for the Saudi market. The project also includes major infrastructure to develop the Bernejo river channel to irrigate the crops (overseen by AISCO). Although Al-Khorayef and the government claim the land to be unoccupied, it is used by indigenous peoples for grazing and food collection. The pro Al-Khorayef lobby is represented in Argentina by Siasa latinoamericana (SIASA), which is run by Daniel Tardito, CEO of Eduardo Eurnekian, one of the biggest landowners in the Chaco, with close connections to the current and former governors of the Province. The project would begin with 30,000 hectares to be further expanded, as profits are to be reinvested in increased infrastructure and irrigation to support the project.
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Basic Data
NameAl-Khorayef Group plans for Soy in Chaco, Argentina
CountryArgentina
ProvinceChaco
SiteEl Impenetrable Region (Northwestern Chaco)
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Deforestation
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Soybeans
Meat
Timber
Water
Infrastructure (Roads, Electricity, Irrigation), Sorghum
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
212,000 hectares of land will be converted to the development of large-scale mono-crops, livestock, and infrastructure projects for the purpose of export to Saudi Arabia and other countries.
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Project Area (in hectares)212,000
Level of Investment (in USD)400000000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population60000
Start Date2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesAl-Khorayef Group from Saudi Arabia - [email protected]
AISCO from Spain
DAT Group from Argentina - International Agricultural and Agribusiness Consulting, Daniel Tardito, [email protected]
Relevant government actorsGovernor Jorge Capitanich, Deputy to the Governor, Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff, and Ministers of Economy, Production, Infrastructure, and Environment of Argentina
International and Financial InstitutionsArabia Development Bank
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMulti-Stakeholder Forum for the Land of the Chaco (Foro Multisectorial por la tierra del Chaco), Nelson Mandela Centre
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Landless peasants
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Desertification/Drought
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseRepression
Development of AlternativesConsultation with stakeholders, letter to Provincial Parliment to apply existing laws has been ignored
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Pressure from numerous organizations was not enough to halt the deal – no news was found concerning the conflict after July 2012 (Written August 2013)
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Articles 42 & 43 of the Chaco Constitution, Land Act, Law of Native and Forested Land

References

Foreign Investment in Agriculture in MERCOSUR Member Countrie, Martin Pineiro & Federico Villarreal, 2012, Trade Knowledge Network (TKN)
[click to view]

Greenpeace, 2012, "El Impenetrable" en peligro” El avance de la ganadería intensiva pone en riesgo a los últimos bosques chaqueños
[click to view]

Links

Dario Chaco, 'Members are asked to review transfer of land to Alkhorayef'
[click to view]

Chaco Dia por Dia, Proyectan millonaria inversión en El Impenetrable
[click to view]

AISCO 'SiaSA Argentia'
[click to view]

Chaco Dia Por , 'Proyectan millonaria inversion en El Impenetrable'
[click to view]

The transformation of the Chaco is an ecological and human tragedy, John Vidal, The Guardian
[click to view]

"Lo que quieren es anexar parte del Chaco al Reino de Arabia Saudita"
[click to view]

Servicio Informativo RENA, Polémica en Chaco por anuncio de inversiones árabes en el Impenetrable
[click to view]

Primicias al Día, Denuncian entrega de tierras a grupos árabes
[click to view]

Media Links

Argentina: Informe audiovisual sobre el proyecto árabe en el Chaco
Farmlandgrab.org
[click to view]

Other CommentsThis project is quite convoluted, with peasant and indigenous groups mobilizing in response to other landgrabs in the region, but no shown response to this one in particular (aside from an Open Letter to the Provincial Parliament from la asociacion Espacio). The deal also comes shortly after a massive protest on the capital from indigenous peoples and farmers from this area with sit-ins, marches, and hunger strikes, in which the demands of the people were explicitly denied. No data was found online post July 2012. No confirmation of the project moving ahead was found. It is also unclear if the project is funded by the Chaco government via loans or by Arabia Development Bank.
Meta Information
ContributorAliza Tuttle
Last update03/05/2014
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