News Land Grabbing and Agrofuels - July / August 2013

Land Grabbing: The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)


A threat to African farmers and their farmland is the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). The MCA is a US government programme which manages US foreign assistance and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is the agency that administers the MCA-programs. The difference with a regular development agency is that private sector officials take part in the leadership structure. The MCA shares many characteristics with structural adjustment policies, in particular its mechanism of conditionality. The beneficiaries can receive grants on the condition that the country is endorsing neo-liberal policies, like eliminating all barriers to trade, creating an attractive investment climate and access to secure land tenure through the creation of a private land market. There are two types of funding mechanisms, the Compact and Threshold programmes. The Compact is the full funding programme for countries that have implemented the most neo-liberal policies. The Threshold awards smaller grants and incentivizes governments to implement more neo-liberal policies. Many Sub-Saharan African countries are lining up for these funding programmes: 13 countries have Compact programmes and 6 more are in the Threshold programme. This initiative risks increasing land grabbing in Africa.


A chapter the MCA can be found in the book of GRAIN “The Great Food Robbery”, you can consult the book here:



Land Grabbing: Burkina falls victim to the Millennium Challenge Account



Burkina Faso and the United States of America have concluded a partnership on the governance of land systems. This partnership entails a danger for African farmers, because the partnership is being executed through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US led foreign aid agency, which executes country programmes in partnership with large multinationals. Such multinationals often have a prominent role in land reform (as was the case in Benin[1]) which results in western private property system of land, that is not adapted to the African reality and which allows foreign investors to identify, negotiate and buy/lease land easily. Cultural land is thus reduced to a tradable commodity.


Source: Farmlandgrab

(French and English)



Land Grabbing: Grabbing land for oil


With conventional oil extraction is becoming ever more difficult and oil companies are lining up for more complicated methods to acquire the black gold. Now, the focus is on the development and extraction of oil from tar sand. In the articles below you will find two stories on oil exploration for tar sand from the Republic of Congo and Madagascar. In both cases this puts a burden on water resources and local biodiversity. In the Republic of the Congo a large area of rainforest is endangered by the oil exploration. In Congo the exploration would also involve resettlement of the local population. These land grabs for the benefit of oil companies will impact negatively on the livelihoods, health and food sovereignty of the local population.


Source Article 1 : Boell


Source Article 2 : Boell



Agrofuels : Vote on the proposal of the Renewable Energy Directive


In the European Parliament different Committees have voted on the proposal of Directive of the European Commission regarding renewable energy in transport fuel. In its proposal the Commission recognizes the negative impact of biofuels by introducing a cap for food-based agrofuels and sustainability criteria and by announcing a phase-out of agrofuels by 2020. While we are convinced that the proposal does not go far enough, for example; the cap should be broadened to all land-based biofuels, the proposal can be considered as a step in the right direction to correct a failing policy. In the Development Committee the vote was the most favourable to the Commission’s proposal, but it has the least weight in this dossier. The development Committee did recognize the relation between agrofuel production and land grabbing. However, the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee voted along the lines of the industry: increasing the cap for biofuels (only food-based) to 6,5%, no phasing out of biofuels and no sustainability criteria. The Environment Committee has voted more moderate: a cap of 5,5%, the introduction of sustainability criteria, but no phase out. What is left now, it the plenary vote in September and afterwards the dossier will be treated in the Council that is expected to vote along the lines of industry. 



[1] For more information see our website :

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