Mozambican peasants tour Europe to confront governments and investors

Several EU governments and investors who support tree plantations in Niassa province, Mozambique are guilty of right to food violations, according to a new report by the human rights organization FIAN International. The company Chikweti Forests of Niassa has established tree plantations on 13,000 hectares in Niassa. Backed by Dutch pension fund ABP, Swedish development aid money and a number of Nordic churches, Chikweti said it would deliver jobs, environmental protection and community development to an impoverished region. In reality, the economic, social and cultural rights of local peasants were trampled and the situation is likely to aggravate, says the report The human rights impacts of tree plantations in Niassa province, Mozambique.’

Last year the tree monocultures in Niassa already caused some political turmoil in the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, the home states of the institutio ns investing in Chikweti Forests of Niassa. The affected communities accused the companies of grabbing more land than agreed upon, job opportunities failed to materialize and working conditions on the plantations were below standard.

Investors rushed in to apologize and promised improvements, and management was replaced in an attempt to silence the critics. However, the situation has not improved.

“Peasant communities in the area have seen their access to land for food production diminished and fear that the environmental consequences of the fast growing pine and eucalyptus trees, that present a growing threat to water supplies, soil conditions and biodiversity,” said Philip Seufert, of FIAN International and author of the report.

As small-scale agriculture is the main source of livelihood in the region, these factors have a huge impact on the rural population and put peasants at risk of food insecurity. Their rights to adequate fo od and water, as recognized by the United Nations and Mozambican law, are impaired. Given the planned expansion of the plantations, a further deterioration of the situation is more than likely.

A delegation with three representatives of peasants’ organizations in Mozambique is visiting six European countries 26 September – 13 October to draw attention to the situation in Niassa. They will meet with politicians, investors, journalists and the general public to explain the problems they are facing and articulate their demands. The delegation will visit the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Poland, Norway and Sweden.

Download the report ‘The human rights impacts of tree plantations in Niassa province, Mozambique’.

The press is invited to interview the members of the delegation. Below you will find the contact person in each country. For more information on the report, contact Philip Seufert at FIAN International.

FIAN International
Philip Seufert

FIAN Netherlands (26/9 – 30/9)
Camiel Donicie

FIAN Germany (30/9 – 2/10)
Roman Herre

FIAN Austria (2/10 – 5/10)
Brigitte Reisenberger

IGO Poland (5/10 – 7/10)
Barbara Lech

FIAN Norway (7/10 – 10/10)
Tom Henning Bratlie

FIAN Sweden (10/10 – 13/10)
Martin Hedberg