Recently I returned from the Via Campeisna’s Vth International Conference in Mozambique, followed by brief visit with social justice organizations in South Africa. Also in Mozambique, as delegate to the Via Campesina Conference, was Grassroots International colleague John Peck of the Family Farm Defenders and the National Family Farm Coalition. John wrote the article below just days after hearing the President of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza, address the Via Campesina Assembly. In his address, Guebuza unfortunately noted that his government would be supporting the expansion of jatropha plantations for agrofuels production. It is significant that Brazil’s Lula government has been instrumental in promoting the production of agrofuels in Mozambique as a development alternative since Lula’s visit there in 2006.
In a conversation with Diamantino Nhampossa, leader of the National Union Framers Union of Mozambique (UNAC), our host in Mozambique, I was told that not only is Guebuza supporting the jatropha plantation but he is also ceding government owned land to South African and other transnational corporations that plan to expand large scale industrial mono-culture plantations for agrofuels production. These plans fit right into the proposed « green revolution for Africa » but meet with little support from small-scale farmers. Instead, small farmers have a very different proposal for agriculture and food production in Mozambique and elsewhere in Africa. To learn more, read John Peck’s article below describing how jatropha fits with the plans developed at the Global Food Crisis Summit held in Rome this past summer. As John notes, « The world will not be able to escape the food versus fuel debate as long as governments continue to subsidize agrofuels to the detriment of sustainable agriculture as practiced by millions of peasant farmers. »