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Agricultural land investment deal in Djidja, Benin


In 2010, a subsidiary of the China National Complete Import and Export Corporation Group (COMPLANT), Hua Lien International, announced its intention to set up a US $5 billion venture with COMPLANT itself and the China-Africa Development Fund for ethanol production. The venture will be launched in Benin, based on COMPLANTs extensive recent investment in sugarcane and manioc, which includes a 4,800 ha sugarcane and manioc plantation. In 2004, the social movement Synergie Paysanne, or Synpa, found that land deals were being conducted secretly and without informing the people. In 2008, peasants protested that they were being chased off their lands. Synpa went to investigate in Djidja where they found that 45% of the land was already sold to investors. 10 000 Ha had been leased to Chinese investors to produce ethanol from manioc, for export to China. Other multinationals and elite businessmen from Benin have leased another 25 000 Ha. The government is creating a new land law that Synpa says is favourable to investors. Synpa is denouncing the governments actions, and calling for regional and global mobilization and a unified platform against land grabs.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Agricultural land investment deal in Djidja, Benin
State or province:Department of Zou
Location of conflict:Djidja
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Total land investments according to GRAIN amount to 236 100 h sold to foreign investors, which amounts to a total of 2% of land controlled by agri-food interests. 1.0 million, or 12% of Benins 8.4 million people are undernourished.

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Project area:236100
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1 million people undernourished
Start of the conflict:2008
Company names or state enterprises:China National Complete Plant Import and Export Corporation from China
Hua Lien International subsidiary from China
Greenwaves from Italy
Betexco from Nigeria
Agritec Group (Agritec) from Benin
Relevant government actors:Mayor of Djidja , Government of Benin
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Steward International from South Africa
China-Africa Development Fund (CAD FUND) from China
China Development Bank (CDB) from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Synergie Paysanne (Synpa),, RAPDA (African Network for the Right to Food), GRAIN,, Bread for All,, Comit Catholique contre la Faim et pour le Dveloppent (CCFD),, Mayor of Djidja
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Proposal and development of alternatives:-Promote food sovereignty by strengthening the role and responsibility of small farmers and food processors at the local and national levels.
-Look for convergences among all the different movements working against land grabbing and for food sovereignty (for instance movements for the preservation of heritage seeds, against GMOs, and in favour of access to water. All these campaigns and struggles, working together, can come up with innovative alternatives that can help to build a new world agricultural order.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:While the new law has not yet been finalized and the Chinese investors appear to be advancing with the project, Synpa has continued to mobilize and form regional and global alliances in the fight against land grabbing.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Law of 16 October 2007 set in motion by Synpa, but this was rendered less effective by the World Banks Millennium Challenge Account for Benin (MCA-B)

World Bank Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Nonfodji, Paulette. Chinas Farmland Rush in Benin: Toward a Win-Win Economic Model of Cooperation? Land Deal Politics Initiative. (6-8 April 2011). Accessed via:
[click to view]

The Saudi Gazette. Benin Offers Agricultural Investment to Saudi Arabia. (April 27, 2010).
[click to view]

GRAIN. Land Grabbing and Food Sovereignty in West and Central Africa. (September 19, 2012).
[click to view]

Synergie Paysanne. Petition de Alliance Nationale des OSC pour un code foncier et domanial consensual et respectueux des droits economiques, sociaux et culturels.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Panos. Interview with Simon Bodea of Synergie Paysanne, Benin. (June 19, 2012).
[click to view]

A documentary by Philippe Reveill
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Zahra Moloo
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1109
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