NSukala Sugar plantation and refinery in Cercle de Segou, Mali


In 1996, the Malian government and state-owned China Light Industrial Corporation for Foreign Economic and Technical Cooperation (CLETC) entered into a joint venture to establish the Mali Sugar Conglomerate, with CLETC holding 60% of the company and the government holding 40%. The Conglomerate took control of two sugar factories that were built with Chinese assistance in the 1960s and 1970s and sugar-cane plantations on 5,700 ha, known as SUKALA S.A. In 2009, the Malian government signed a deal with CLETC to establish a new sugar project, New Complexe Sucrier Du Kala Superieur SA (N’Sukala), in which CLETC was given a 50-year renewable lease on 20,000 ha of lands in the Office du Niger for irrigated sugar-cane production. The plant was completed in November of 2012, and production had started on test plots at that time, however construction started before the ESIA was completed or villagers notified of the agreement. As of 2011 only 4,000 ha of the allocation was planted – and the CEO of Sinolight cited squatters as a main setback, saying all of the acreage is to be developed by 2013 if the government arranges for the removal of the ‘squatters’.

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Basic Data
NameNSukala Sugar plantation and refinery in Cercle de Segou, Mali
ProvinceCercle de Ségou
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)Water access rights and entitlements
Land acquisition conflicts
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific CommoditiesWater

Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe project is to process 6,000 tons of sugarcane daily, with an annual output of 104,000 tons of sugar and 9.6 million liters of alcohol. This project and the existing two facilities at Dougabougou and Siribala together are to produce over 140,000 tons of sugar, and therefore exceeded domestic demand. The sugar plant will employ 740 permanent workers and 10,500 seasonally. While the government of Mali is responsible to notify those to be resettled the CLETC is responsible to cover all costs (article 7 in contract).

Project Area (in hectares)20,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationAt least 8 villages (31,470 people)
Start Date2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesChina Light Industrial Corporation for Foreign Economic and Technical Cooperation (CLETC) from China
Affiliated with Sinolight Corporation from China
Relevant government actorsMalian government, Office du Niger
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersVia Campesina, http://viacampesina.org/en/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Prior to clearing, the land was used for grazing, firewood collection, and dry cereal cropping. Local people were not informed nor received prior compensation. In addition, according to Article 15.1, the company has priority access to water in case of drought over subsistence farmers in the area. Protests and sit-ins in the region continue.
Sources and Materials

Oakland Institute, 2011, 'Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa: Mali'
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Nolte, Kerstin and Voget-Kleschin, Lieske, 2013,'Evaluating Consultation in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions', p.12-3
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Djire, Moussa, Amadou Keita and Alfousseyni Diawara, 2012, 'Current dynamics of large-scale agricultural investments and inclusive business models in Mali'
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Djire, Moussa, Amadou Keita, Alfousseyni Diawara, 2012, 'Agricultural investments and land acquisitions in Mali'
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, 'Land Grabbing in Mali: Farmers Arrested'
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, 'Convention Particuliere sur les Conditions de Cession et de Bail des terres an Nouveau Compleze Ducrier du Kala Superieur (N-Sukala)
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, 'Les attributions de terres a N-Sukala au Mali'
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Sinolight, 'Sugar Business Dept'
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Malijet, 'INAUGURATION DE N-SUKALA-SA Les prémices de la souveraineté sucrière'
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Wikileaks, 2009, 'A spoonful of Chinese Sugar Sourts US Investors in Mali'
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Mali Sugar Conglomerate, 'DLETC Project Case in Mali'

Media Links

'Why Poverty' Directed by Hugo Berkeley & Osvalde Lewat
[click to view]

Other Comments'In the absence of clear national guidelines in respect of the displacement and resettlement of affected communities, everything depends on the goodwill of the developer and any requirements imposed by lenders' Dijire, 2012

Sinolight announced plans to build another sugar refinery in Niger in 2012.

Meta Information
ContributorAliza Tuttle
Last update24/06/2014