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Trouble on the Land

Will a Plan to Build Massive Farms in Africa Help to Feed the Continent - or is it Just a "Land Grab?"
Trouble on the Land: Dan Rather Reports, Sept. 27, 2011, 8:00 pm (Premiere)

(A clip of the program can be found at the following link:
 link to blip.tv)


DALLAS (September 26, 2011) -Tomorrow night, "Dan Rather Reports" travels to Tanzania to investigate a plan underway that would see more than a hundred thousand refugees moved from their homes and replaced by a massive commercial farm to be owned and operated by American investors.

This deal was first exposed by the Oakland Institute. See for details:  http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/land-deals-africa/agrisol-energy-llc

With global population set to rise by two billion by mid-century and an estimated 90 percent of the world's arable land already being cultivated, scientists worry that we could be on the brink of a global food crisis. And with the land going for pennies on the dollar, big U.S. investors have started putting money into agriculture in Africa. But, they are not just buying commodities or stock - investors are buying the farmland directly. One of these U.S. investors is AgriSol Energy - and some are skeptical that their investment in Tanzania is anything more than a "land grab."

AgriSol Energy is headed by Bruce Rastetter, an large-scale agricultural operator and major player in Iowa business and politics. Now Rastetter and his colleagues are hoping to export their Iowa agribusiness know-how to approximately 800,000 acres of land in western Tanzania. But why might one of the world's most respected agricultural universities - Iowa State - be helping to seal the deal? And what will happen to the over 125,000 refugees who currently call that very land their home?

"We walk with no peace in our hearts," says refugee and farmer Sembuli Masasa, "We are miserable to know that we will be moving."

But, the project has the blessing of the Tanzanian government with one of the biggest proponents being Tanzania's own Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda. "Surely one would not be na´ve to that, to accept an investor into an area at this kind, provided it's well balanced, provided it has a effect on people around [and] enable [them] to have access to a better market. Definitely it would be a very good idea," Pinda tells "Dan Rather Reports."

Africa is now a hot spot for foreign investors in everything from agriculture to precious metals. And according to world-renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs, if the investment is handled properly, it could make a huge difference in that part of the world. But if the investments are given away, these people in one of the poorest parts of the planet get little or nothing in return.

Dan Rather Reports Trouble on the Land premieres on HDNet, Tuesday, September 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET with an encore presentation at midnight ET.

Learn about Land Grabs in Africa and Help Spread the Word by Posting Widely

Learn about OI's project, Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa

 link to media.oaklandinstitute.org

Trouble on the Land
 http://www.hd.net/programs/danrather/
Dan Rather Reports, HD Net, Sept. 27, 2011, at 8pm ET/5pm PT
Dan Rather Reports, HD Net, Sept. 27, 2011, at 11pm ET/8pm PT
Dan Rather Reports, HD Net, Oct. 1, 2011, at 12pm ET/9pm PT

HD Net can be viewed by COMCAST customers online at
 http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/Dan-Rather-Reports/98357/full-episodes

The program can also be downloaded
 http://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/dan-rather-reports-season-6/id414506840


About Dan Rather Reports: Host Dan Rather presents hard-edged field reports, in-depth interviews and investigative pieces that emphasize accuracy, fairness and guts in their reporting.

The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank, bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.

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