Sep. 1st, 2011

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Brazil: Mozambique Cedes Land to Brazilian Agribusiness

The government of Mozambique is ceding 6 million hectares [pt] of land to Brazilian farmers (this corresponds to two-thirds of the landmass of Portugal) to grow soy, cotton and corn in the northern provinces Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Zambézia. The idea is to draw on the Brazilian experience in the Cerrado (Brazil's savanna), where since the 1960s the agricultural frontier has advanced into the interior with industrial livestock and soy plantations.
In Brazil, this inward push of agriculture and meat production has led to the devastation of 80% of the Cerrado, which is recognized as one the richest grasslands in the world in terms of biodiversity. The degradation of this habitat, which occupies a quarter of Brazilian land, has drained and polluted the hydrological basins of the region, considered the principal water sources of the country.

With the deal from the Mozambican government, the Brazilian agricultural frontier is now set to cross the Atlantic Ocean towards the African Savanna. For geographer Eli Alvez Penha, author of the book, “Relações Brasil-África e Geopolítica do Atlântico” (”Brazil-Africa Relations and the Geopolitics of the Atlantic”), the “ecological and cultural similarities” means there is a “good ecological match” between Brazil and the African continent.

In an interview [pt] on the website of the Federal University of Bahia Press, Penha discusses, among other things, a comment by Kenyan agricultural specialist Calistous Juma that “for each African problem, there exists a Brazilian solution.” Penha adds, “I would say, that the reverse is also true.”

Brazilian agribusiness, based on the depletion of natural resources, now hopes to export its unsustainable model of GMO seeds, soil management that leads to degradation, and land exploitation based on a failed model of agrarian reform. As early as 2006, the website Repórter Brasil [pt] pointed out the new direction for the Brazilian agricultural frontier:MORE

This will end well.
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Iran: Protests to Save Lake Urmia Reignited

Once again thousands of protesters have poured into streets of Tabriz and Urmia in Iran's Azerbaijan region on Saturday to call on the Iranian government to save the dying Urmia Lake, one of the world's largest salt water lakes.

From dying lake to saving country

Iranian authorities quickly reacted by repressing protesters. The news was censored in Iran-based media, but several video were posted on YouTube and bloggers flooded cyber world with their posts. Blogger Urmuiscierli writes [fa] that there were battles on the streets with security forces beating up and arresting protesters, and even tying them to trees. Some bloggers called on more Iranians to support the Azeri activists and relaunch anti-regime demonstrations around country.

The construction of a dam on part of the lake, accompanied by a recent drought has significantly decreased the annual amount of water Urmia receives. This in turn has increased the salinity, repelling many birds and threatening permanent damage to the ecosystem. If the lake dries out, millions of people in the region will need to resettle to survive.MORE

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