In December 2017, Stefano Liberti and Enrico Parenti traveled to Mozambique for two weeks to report on the so-called Pro Savana, a huge agro-industrial project that was aimed at turning a 14-m hectare area into commercial agriculture.
Launched in 2011 by the government as a way to increase productivity and enhance the country’s food sovereignty, the project has been dubbed by some national farmers’ organizations as a great land grab deal. Smallholders fear Pro Savana was conceived to make way for foreign companies and occupy the land they have been using for centuries.
Liberti and Parenti visited the area targeted by the project where they met farmers, civil society organizations as well as the officers in charge of Pro Savana at the Ministry of Agriculture.
While working in the field, they found that the initial idea to create large-scale monocultures has been dropped and a new plan, still under discussion, is to focus on smallholders. The large mobilization set up by local organizations together with international NGOs has forced the government to be more inclusive and take into account farmers’ concerns. Though under-reported, the “No to Pro Savana” has been undoubtedly one of Africa's most successful civil society campaigns.