Susan Payne's and Frans van den Bergh's companies allegedly forced landowners to sign over 1,000 hectares
Image: Emergent Asset Management
Who's buying: EmVest Asset Management, a joint venture between Emergent Asset Management and Grainvest, a subsidiary of the RussellStone Group. Susan Payne, the CEO of Emergent Asset Management and Frans van den Bergh, a former trader at Voersentrale, a cooperative involved in the domestic and international trade of commodities for animal feed, who is now the Chairman of RussellStone, Agri-Invest, and Freecka Landgoed Ltd, a mixed farming operation.
The land they're buying: 2,000 hectares in Matuba, Mozambique.
The future development: The company aims to develop arable land to produce food crops by building irrigation. The latest
quarterly update says that the irrigation system is 98% complete.
The scandal: Government authorities allegedly forced landowners to sign papers releasing 1,000 hectares of land. Emergent says it has 1,000 hectares and is in the process of obtaining rights for the second 1,000. The company says in its verbal communication to investors that it already owns the second 1,000 hectares. The company also claims to have a strong relationship with the local community (which their Facebook group seems to verify). Community members however speak of a conflict that is "because EmVest wants land where people live and farm, but we need this land for our children and to feed ourselves."
Muammar Gaddafi is accused of negotiating a deal where he gets 100,000 hectares of land for free to build a large water canal
Who's buying: Malibya, a subsidiary of Libya Africa Investment Portfolio. The deal was reportedly negociated between Libyan head of state Muammar Gaddafi and Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure. However the agreement was signed between Tiémoko Sangare, (then) Malian Minister of Agriculture, and Dr. Aboubaker al Mansoury, Secretary of the Popular Committee for Agriculture, Livestock and the Fishery, representing the Arab Libyan Popular and Socialist Grande Jamahiriya.
The land they're buying: 100,000 hectares in the Office du Niger, west of Macina in Mali.
The future development: The construction will create the largest canal in Mali and one of the largest in Africa, and a road, both 40 kilometers in the first phase. The construction of an irrigation canal of 40km has been subcontracted to the Chinese operator CGC, which is owned by SINOPEC. The land will produce hybrid rice, livestock, and it will process tomatoes. Between January and May, it will produce wheat, maize, soya and various vegetables.
The scandal: The agreement grants Malibya use of the land for free for 50 years. It charges negligible fees for water extraction from the Niger River, and places no limits on how much can be extracted. To build the canal, houses were razed and a cemetery was unearthed.
Amadou Sissoko's company is accused of having villagers beaten who protested when bulldozers arrived on the land they've lived on for centuries
Who's buying: Moulin Moderne du Mali; the Agropastoral and Industrial Complex and Amadou Sissoko, the president of the board of Moulin Moderne du Mali.
The land they're buying: 7,400 hectares in M'Bewani and 20,000 ha in the upper Kala hydraulic zone of the Office du Niger in Mali
The future development: Wheat is the principal crop in the first phase. During January and May, wheat, maize, soya and vegetables will be farmed.
The scandal: There are no limits on how much water the project can use, and it's displacing 3,500 villagers whose community has lived on the land for centuries. During a protest over builders bulldozing the community's trees, protestors say they were beaten. One woman says she miscarried as a result of the beating. The Secretary of State responsible for the Office du Niger says the communities have no rights to the land. However they are a self-sufficient community which has been self sufficient by farming and selling millet for years. They produce enough cover taxes, health, marriage, etc costs. And 2 years ago, during a major food crisis in the country, the community donated food to the Malian government as aid.
William Brown and Ed Rosenberg's company is accused of displacing thousands and providing misleading info about their investment
Who's buying: Petrotech-ffn Agro Mali, a subsidiary of Petrotech-ffn in Egypt; William Brown, the chairman of Petrotech (he was formerly a United States Ambassador and was also former principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific. He has a Ph.D. from Harvard.); and Ed Rosenberg, the president of Global Wealth Management Corp.
The land they're buying: 10,000 hectares in the hydraulic system of Kareri
The future development: Agrofuel. The principle crop will be oil-producing plants, specifically jatropha oil, which 9,500 hectacres of the land will be dedicated to farming, according to the company's promotional presentation.
The scandal: The project will displace an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people, who are living off the land currently. The lease describes the fertile land as "brownfield." And the company's presentation on the project says it will benefit the local population, but on its website, it says it "will initially sell its feedstock to the EU countries, the U.S. and to support the Biodiesel facility in Egypt," according to the OI.
Aliou Tomota's company is accused of displacing hundreds of thousands of people without even bothering with a lease
Who's buying: Tomota Group and Huicoma, which is part of the cotton company CMDT (Tomota purchased the majority of shares in Huicoma 2005), and Aliou Tomota, who runs Tomota.
The land they're buying: 100,000 hectares in Mali including Monipebougou, Macina, and Tenenkou. One newspaper says Tomota could own up to 140,000 hectares.
The future development: The company reportedly plans to produce oleaginous plants, sunflowers, peanuts, soya, jatropha, and karite. Tomota's technical director says it will produce mostly combustible oils. However OI believes it also intends to produce jatropha, the oil of which is used for agrofuel.
The scandal: After Tomota effectively bought Huicoma, the company realized that it did not have enough raw stock for its oil production, it reportedly took over the land without signing a lease first. And according to the Office du Niger, as of October 1, 2010, when Tomota was already producing 2,000 hectares of sunflowers, no lease had been signed yet. It's unclear what will happen to the estimated 100,000-200,000 people living on every 2,000 hectares of the land Tomota now claims.
Mohammed Al-Amoudi's company will reportedly squeeze excess water out of the community's Awero river to farm rice
Who's buying: Saudi Star Agriculture Development; Mohammed Al-Amoudi, who owns the company (Forbes ranks him the 64th richest person in the world) and reportedly is suspected of having deep connections to the local government, the EPRDF.
The land they're buying: 10,000 hectares near Abobo in Gambella in Ethiopia, and they're looking to buy 500,000 hectares more.
The future development: Plans include building 30 km of cement-lined canals to move water from the Awero river to the fields, and building a second dam on the river to increase the amount of water available. The company hopes the additional 500,000 hectacres will produce 1 million tons of rice. They also hope to grow maize, teff, sugarcane, and oilseeds.
The scandal: The company isn't paying rent on the 10,000 hectacres, which used to be maize fields farmed by local villages. And the river Saudi Star hopes to use is currently used for fishing, transportation, and as a water source for several small villages, which have been relocated across the river. The communities were not consulted before the relocation. When they asked government officials why bulldozers were clearing the area, they reportedly replied, "You don't have any land, only the government has land."