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Land grabbing: the new Italian colonialism

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Italy is land grabbing too

The large-scale acquisition of farmlands in developing countries, carried out by multinational corporations and governments, is a practice that has become particularly significant from 2007-2008, as consequent to agricultural prices crisis. A new form of colonialism, which according to the World Bank involved in recent years between 50 and 80 million hectares, mainly in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. Lands are detracted to local populations, for the modest price of a few dollars a year, and are converted into plantations useful to rich nations.

Italy has not pulled itself out, focusing mainly on Senegal. Different companies are involved, with the aim to gain control over a total area of 145,000 hectares (slightly less than the entire province of Milan), the 3.8% of the arable land of the country, with results often very arguable. One of these is the Tampieri Financial Group Spa, a large family holding company based in Ravenna that produces edible oil and renewable energy from biomass. Through its Senegalese subsidiary Senhuile SA, since 2011 it’s investing in northern Senegal to achieve food crops, including sunflower seeds. To give just one example, in October of that year, during a people’s demonstration against this investment, two people were killed.

The investment area is part of the Ndiaël natural reserve, declassified at this specific purpose, where for many years thousands of people belonging to the 37 villages around the present project had the right to access and use for grazing and for the collection of natural products, both essential sources for their livelihoods.

Several civil society organizations, from Senegal, Europe (including ActionAid Italy and Re: Common) and the United States, took action to support the claims of the people of the villages of Ndiaël, launching an international mobilization to demand the cessation of all activities of Senhuile SA in the investment area and to ensure that every project will be the subject of prior consultations with the Collective for the defense of the reserve of Ndiaël.

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