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Daewoo Maize and Biofuel Project, Madagascar


South Korean company Daewoo Logistics signed a 99-year lease in Madagascar for about 1.3 million hectares, or about half of the island's arable land. It is the largest lease of this type in history and would have supplied half of South Korea's grain imports. The organization Collectif pour la Défense des Terres Malgaches, TANY was established in reaction to the lease (in which monetary compensation for the land was not included) and petitioned the government to first consult with stakeholders before agreeing to foreign land deals. The petition was ignored. The Major of Antananarivo (the largest city in Madagascar), Andry Rajoelina, criticized the president, Marc Ravalomanana, for supporting the deal. Rajoelina's administration rose in popularity because of his opposition to to Daewoo.

In December of 2009 the mayor organized a series of rallies against the president and the Daewoo deal which escalated into an 'attempted coup d'etat'. Some of the rallies turned violent, stores were burned and looted, and over 100 people died. After three months of unrest President Ravalomanana fled to South Africa and on the 21st of March, 2009, Andry Rajoelina was sworn in as president of Madagascar.

Three weeks later he rescinded upon the deal with Daewoo. While this deal is now dead, many smaller land acquisition deals that deny people rights are now being signed and put into operation.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Daewoo Maize and Biofuel Project, Madagascar
State or province:Brickaville, Toamasina II, Vatomandry, Maintirano, and Sava
Location of conflict:Antananarivo and Brickaville, Toamasina II, Vatomandry, Maintirano, and Sava regions
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific commodities:
Palm oil

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

million hectares of farmland, infrastructure projects, and an estimated 45,000 – 70,000 jobs (mostly filled by skilled south African workers) with a plan to produce 5 million metric tones of corn annually.

Project area:1,300,000
Level of Investment:6,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:20 million - total population of Madagascar
Start of the conflict:29/12/2008
Company names or state enterprises:Daewoo Logistics Corporation
Madagascar Future Business Group from Madagascar
Relevant government actors:President Marc Ravalomanana, ousted by coup., Andry Rajoelina, new president, previous major of Antananarivo.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Collectif pour la Défense des Terres Malgaches, TANY, Chair: Mamy Rakotondrainibe,, Link to petition to the government:

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Groups created specifically against Daewoo deal.
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Genetic contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Potential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Institutional changes
Project cancelled
Development of alternatives:Consult stakeholders and people, conduct environmental assessments, and hold public meetings before agreeing to such long-term and potentially harmful deals.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Officially cancelled but is being replaced by smaller deals, and Daewoo continues to hold land in Madagascar. The new president continues to invite foreign investment of this type.

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

The constitution is cited to forbid land acquisition by foreign bodies, but this is vague.

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

Barry Ness et. Al., 2009, 'The African land-grab: Creating equitable governance strategies through codes-of-conduct and certification schemes'

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

'Madagascar leader axes land deal' BBC

Daewoo logistics

'South Korean company takes over part of Madagascar to grow biofuels. The Daily Telegraph

'Madagascar's new leader says Daewoo land deal off' Reuters

Collectif pour la Defense des Terres Malgaches 'Appel a signature petition'

Meta information

Contributor:Aliza Tuttle
Last update08/04/2014