|The South African government has been preparing a national land reform to take back one third of the land owned by white families to be redistributed to black African families . This land reform is tightened to the history of the country. Under the British colonizer law and later on under the apartheid rule, millions of Black people were made landless. By 1994, at the end of the apartheid, whites (10% of the population), owned 90% of the land. That is the underlying reason motivating the successive governments of the African National Congress to commit to redistribute 30% of the country’s agricultural land by 2014 [2, 3]. By 2009, and while the land reform was approaching in South Africa, several other Sub-Saharan countries’ governments were offering large-scale land-deals to white South-African farmers, in order to enable their countries to become less dependent on food imports. This was perceived as an opportunity for white farmers to expand their business elsewhere than in their own country where land became a scarce and disputed resource. The government of the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) was hoping that the south-African farmers would encourage the blossoming of Congolese agriculture thanks to their financial and modern means. The Republic of Congo annually imports between 100 and 120 billiards of FCFA francs in food products . The South-African government worked actively with Agri South Africa, the major cooperative of white South-African farmers, to negotiate land-deals with other sub-Saharan governments . The white south-African farmers arrived to Congo-Brazzaville by the end of the year 2011, all merged under the company Congo-Agriculture. There were 28 south-African families who settled down in the department of Malolo, with a total of 48,000 hectares of arable land being leased to them in Malolo department. Yet the interests for the farmers who settled down in Congo-Brazzaville, seemed to be diverging from the government’s expectations. The farmers expressed their willingness to grow tropical fruit, that represents more profits for them than local grains, since it is meant to be exported to Europe [5, 6]. |
Locally, in the lowland of Dihesse (department of Malolo), the land-deal negotiated by the Congolese government triggered several discontents. The government considered the 17,000 hectares being leased in Dihesse as empty lands, but they were not quite so. The land in Dihesse was already occupied by local farmers and pastoralists . What is more, Congo-Agriculture did not commit to the social obligations it was supposed to fulfil in exchange of the land lease. If when first arrived, the south-African farmers were being complimented for setting up water drills, enabling locals to have running water, the company Congo-Agriculture did not contribute to the construction of schools, medical centers, cultural and sportive infrastructures, nor did it equip the local pharmacies [7, 8]. Last but not least, Congo Agriculture did not achieve the stated goals concerning jobs for locals. The few locals hired by Congo Agriculture complained about hard working conditions, and low salaries .