Launch of international alliance against land grabbing

La Via Campesina CNOP press release

(Sélingué, Mali, 19 November 2011)– More than 250 farmers, from 30 countries, launched an international alliance against land grabbing on November 19 in Sélingué, Mali. This alliance will be led by peasants, in collaboration with a wide range of social movements and organizations. The announcement was made at the close of the international conference “Stop the land grab”, organized by the national confederation of peasant organizations (CNOP) in Mali, and by La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement.

Land grabbing is a worldwide phenomenon of unprecedented size and speed. In Mali, over the last few years, the government has leased more than 800 000 hectares of arable land to investors, on 30-year, renewable contracts. It is estimated that in the whole of Africa, more than 30 million hectares have been sold or rented. The figure is 60 to 80 million hectares for the whole world, but, given the secret, sometimes illegal, nature of the contracts, this figure is only the visible tip of the iceberg. These lands have already been transferred to national elites, multinationals and financial funds, who try to make a profit or speculate using industrial agriculture projects, mining, agrofuel production, carbon markets, tourism, large dams, etc.

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Ndiakhate Fall: “Land is everything for us”

From the Nyéléni Village - Selingué – Mali – 17 November 2011

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Interview with Ndiakhate Fall, from the region of Thies, Ville de Mecklie, member of the CMCR (Conseil National de Concertation et de Cooperation des Ruraux) that is the platform of peasants’ organisations in Senegal, member of Via Campesina.

I am a farmer. I grow mainly peanuts, and other vegetables for consumption, as well keeping sheep and cows. My country Senegal has already promised to give away 500.000 hectares of land for growing agrofuels or food for export. Senegal has many examples of land-grabbing, and most of them are linked to a number of specific phenomena.

First of all the extension of cities. In all big cities nowadays there are real estate companies that want land to build houses or to sell it to private investors. Secondly, there are land grabs by mining industries; many companies come and settle in Senegal - for example, an Austrian company, that mines zircon, has grabbed a lot of land and robbed many farmers.

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Conference Declaration: Stop Land-Grabbing Now!

We, women and men peasants, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and their allies, who gathered together in Nyeleni from 17-19 November 2011, have come from across the world for the first time to share with each other our experiences and struggles against land-grabbing. One year ago we supported the Kolongo Appeal from peasant organizations in Mali, who have taken the lead in organising local resistance to the take-over of peasants' lands in Africa. Now we came to Nyeleni in response to the Dakar Appeal, which calls for a global alliance against land-grabbing. For we are determined to defend food sovereignty, the commons and the rights of small scale food providers to natural resources.

In Mali, the Government has committed to give away 800 thousand hectares of land to business investors. These are lands of communities that have belonged to them for generations, even centuries, while the Malian State has only existed since the 1960-s. This situation is mirrored in many other countries where customary rights are not recognised. Taking away the lands of communities is a violation of both their customary and historical rights.

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Movements Unite in Mali, Confronting Powerful Interests : “We are decolonizing Africa here”

Nyéléni, Mali – 19 November 2011 —The National Confederation of Peasant Organization’s (CNOP) agroecological training center stands at the crossroads of the West African countryside. Surrounded with rich Malian farmland and dotted with white thatched-roof huts, the Niger River snakes into the horizon on one side, and a dusty road connects the property to the sleepy town of Sélingué. Today, well into the first International Peasant’s Conference, the center was buzzing with activity as peasants from across Africa and around the world worked together to envision communities where land is more than a commodity.

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photo: Philippe Revelli

“This is the kind of awareness-raising that has the potential to change policy,” said Ibrahima Coulibaly, CNOP’s president and a Via Campesina leader. “As local and national movements, we need to fight together against the global structures that threaten our communities,” he added.

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