The Brazilian government together with Japan plan to complete a large-scale agribusiness project in Northern Mozambique. The project will take place over an area od 14 million ha. and will be exploited by Brazilian agribusiness companies for the production of soybeans, maize and other commodity crops that will be exported by Japanese multinationals.
ProSavana was inspired by a similar project carried out by the Brazilian and Japanese governments in the Brazilian Cerrado, where they laid the foundation for a system based on large-scale industrial farming of monocrops. This Brazilian project led to a degradation of the environment and the near extinction of indigenous communities living in the affected areas. The Nacala Corridor was chosen because its savannah has similar characteristics to the Brazilian Cerrado, in terms of its climate and agroecology, and because of the ease with which products can be exported.
Importing this same technology for tropical agriculture, ProSavana is aimed at increasing productivity in the Nacala Corridor, where 3.6 million people live in the rural areas, mainly practicing subsistence agriculture. This number represents a much higher population density than in Brazil or other countries where agriculture has been modernized.
The project master plan states that ProSavana will foster family agriculture, but CSOs and local peasants see the project preparing the terrain for international investors to enter in the country. While Brazil claims that its South-South Development cooperation does not impose conditionality, doesn’t interfere in internal affairs, is demand- driven, non-profit and participatory, evidence from the Prosavana program shows that it like classic colonialism, it is commercially motivated, instituted from the top-down and conceived by donors rather than by local needs.
There are already some projects by foreign investors operating in the corridor, such as Suni from South Africa (600 ha. in Nacololo district) or Nitori Holding Company from Japan (20,000 ha. in Malema district). While the players try to legitimate the project assuring there is plenty of available land in the region, and that only abandoned land will be targeted, the peasants organization UNAC says that the local reality shows that such vast areas of land are not freely available and are currently used by peasants practicing shifting cultivation. They issued the following statement regarding the project " “Ever since hearing about the ProSAVANA Programme, we have noticed a lack of information and transparency from the main stakeholders.(…)We, peasant farmers, condemn the way in which the ProSAVANA programme was drafted and the way it is intended to be implemented in Mozambique, which has been characterised by reduced transparency and the exclusion of civil society organisations throughout the process, especially peasant organisations. Following a comprehensive analysis of ProSAVANA, we peasant farmers have concluded that:· ProSAVANA is a result of a top-down policy, which does not take into consideration the demands, dreams and basic concerns of peasants, particularly those within the Nacala Corridor (UNAC, Oct.11,2012)”.
The project is composed of 3 components with activities planned until 2019. The first two, the research phase and the development of a master plan are already taking place. Massive areas of land on a long-term lease basis are being offered for about US$1/ha per year.
Two big investments in the Nacala corridor, while not officially associated with the program, are being carried out by Vale, the Brazilian mining company that operates the Moatize coal mine in Tete province. One investment aims to rehabilitate the export terminal port in Nacala and the railway that runs from Nacala to Tete, passing through Malawi.