The Varun's land grabbing project has its origins in 2009.
It was then reported that Madagascar had definitely abandoned an infamous $6 billion farming agreement with Daewoo Logistics Corp from Korea., but it might welcome agriculture investment in the future. The 1.3 million ha agreement with Daewoo was cancelled by President Andry Rajoelina, in March 2009. Madagascar’s former President Marc Ravalomanana had resigned following two months of protests and many deaths.
Madagascar’s new government was then considering the plans by Varun International, an Indian company, to lease 465,000 hectares of land in the regions of Melaky, Atsinanana and Sofia.
An agreement had been actually made between the Indian company VARUN AGRICULTURE SARL and each Association of 13 (thirteen) differents plains in the Sofia Region in Madagascar (Bemanevika, Bekapila, Mahatsinjo, Ambohitoaka, Mahadrodroka, Manandriana, Ankaizina I, Ankaizina II, Bealanana, Maevarano, Amparay, Ankobalava, Ampatsifatsy).
Following the signature of the convention between the Chief of SOFIA Region and VARUN AGRICULTURE SARL, on 20th December 2008, the project of joint development for the big plain of Madagascar (GPI MAD project) had the objective to promote cultivation and growing of rice, corn, maize, wheat, pulses, fruits, vegetables and other crops growing in the big plain from the estimated 170,900 ha of land in Sofia region.
On January 2009, peasants from the Region and 90% of the mayors of these 13 plains were against this project. They refused the obligation to sell 70% of their products to VARUN which would export them. They also refused the very long-term of the contract : 50 years (can be extended to 99 years).
While the land grabbing project by Varun has been stopped, the same Indian company has large energy and mining investments in Madagascar.