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3 December 2018
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Newsletter n° 106 [ENG]




As lands are of great importance for Malagasy people, the majority of which live in rural areas, the TANY Collective calls all citizens to take into account the candidates positions and projects relating to lands for their choice on the voting day.

Various types of land grabbers exist in Madagascar and they despoil the rights of local communities : Malagasy citizens, economic operators of various nationalities who are residing in Madagascar since long time, companies often with mostly foreign shares which rent lands, but since 2003, laws authorise land selling to foreign companies. Citizens should elect a candidate who is committed in the protection of Malagasy lands, particularly for peasants with a view to developing family agriculture.

Victimised populations resist in various ways in order to protect their goods and to defend their legitimate rights, but new laws raise many problems. According to the TANY Collective, one of the first important steps which should appear in the projects of the next president to be elected should be a change in the current Constitution, voted in 2010 during the Transition regime. The point to be removed in priority will be a sentence in the article number 1 according to which :”The modalities and conditions relating to land sale and long lease to foreigners are determined by law.”. This opens the door to legalising the sale of ancestors’ lands and expelling local communities from lands which bring them food and revenue sources. The content of the future Constitution must be subject to a debate including all citizens.


While media and public opinion focus presently on the presidential election which will take place in a few days, citizens in several regions are subject to impending threats of losing their lands, and risk to share the situation of those who have been subject to this in the past months and years. Whatever be the beautiful talking brought by various candidates aiming to be elected, the TANY Collective is willing to underline that their position and their projects on Malagasy lands, or their silence about it, are of capital importance for the country’s development and the future of each family, and calls each and everybody to be vigilant about this issue when preparing to realise his citizen obligation.

Various types of land grabbers in Madagascar

- Citizens in all regions are aware of cases or are victims of land grabbing by Malagasy people of neighbourhood origin or not, descendents of great families or persons who got rich very quickly or got power, or even possibly impunity, thanks to getting political position. The conflict opposing 300 families in Soavinandriana in the Itasy region to a former Minister is the better known (1), while the Amparihibe community in the Analanjirofo region is opposing the Mayor and other local authorities (2).

- Economic operators of various nationalities, living since long time in Madagascar, in complicity with successive leaders, control and lock since long time almost all sectors of the country’s economy and despoil citizens’ rights on lands. If the collective memory evokes often the Filatex case (3) in various regions, proceedings are presently opposing the Salazamay fokonolona in Tamatave to the Telma company (4).

- Land renting by the State to companies often with a majority of foreign shares in the frame of long lease contracts are numerous and risk to increase, because of the policy of leaders and candidates who give priority to investors in their development projects. The negative consequences for expelled populations are the same as those due to selling (5). Nevertheless one must see that the repercussions of development projects do not bring profit at all to local population and bring very small profits to the country.

- Land selling to foreign companies exist also since 2003 as laws allow selling which was formerly forbidden by traditional culture and laws. Officially leaders swear to God that they do not sell ancestors’ lands but the number and efficiency of investigations are increasing these last months and will bring proofs of these wrongdoings realised under cover subterfuges as using Malagasy frontmen.

The majority of Malagasy people live in rural areas and practice agriculture, breeding and fishing. The land insecurity is increasing as crime is pouring out over the whole country (6), and because of the climate deregulation, of which Madagascar is recognised as a main victim (7). This increases the fears of the rural people and deteriorates work conditions. The impoverishment of a majority of Malagasy people is in contrast with the incredible enrichment of a very small minority whose names of the 10 most rich persons according to Forbes are published (8), and in first ranks appear a candidate and very close associates of candidates to the presidential election of November 7.

For choosing a leader committed to protecting Malagasy lands

In Madagascar, legal owners are those who detain land titles and certificates, which equivalence has just been reinforced by decision makers (9) following several years of conflicts over their respective value. But the real question on the ground, facing corruption (10) and problems of data updating and encroachment (9) do not guarantee firmly land security for those who detain these formal documents. In spite of operations of titles delivery by the Ministry (11) and acceleration of opening land offices, with a view to delivering in group land certificates (12), the percentage of lands with a title or a certificate remains low.

Those who occupy since generations non titled private properties in the 1000 municipalities which do not have a land office – and then do not have titles – are in the risk of losing their lands without rights recognition. Furthermore large superficies areas in several regions are still qualified as “colonial lands” and “indigenous reserves”, and families which operated them since several tens of years cannot request neither titles nor certificates. Large pastures for which the 2005 land reform anticipated to get a law about lands with specific status are allocated to foreigners by long lease without recognition of breeders’ rights who use them but are not included in the state priority subjects for regulation.

Because successive leaders made the choice of liberalisation and priority to investors as development model for the country, and as they call for foreigners to rent and occupy lands since the Daewoo project in 2008, the land owning according to ancestors use in various regions is considered as inexistent, citizens who do not get formal rights on lands through one of the two documents, for various reasons, sometimes out of their will, are qualified as “squatters” by rich and powerful people, which is not acceptable from various points of view.

When thinking about voting on November 7, each voter should take as a criteria the contempt expressed for a majority of citizens by some candidates who authorised in the past or in future visions and programs expelling families from lands and destroying houses, which will imply losing the unique way of production which they have to live, as this is not a development program but an impoverishment program.

Looking actively for solutions and conceiving laws in favour of the majority, aiming at recognising legally customary rights and community lands and to end the colonial system are urgent in the coming years. Candidates advocating visions and society projects aiming at getting Madagascar as a new colony for foreign companies and states should be put aside. (13)

Facing the national population growth and the small superficies of lands for Malagasy peasants – less than one hectare in average (14) – future leaders should facilitate and multiply land allocations to Malagasy families instead of praising the availability of millions of hectares outside the country to attract investors.

For a family agriculture ensuring first the people feeding and export afterwards

Families expelled from their lands and discouraged by insecurity migrate to other places, particularly to urban areas where they hope finding work (15). But survival there remains precarious as cities are already crammed with poor citizens without lands or housing, and the number of small jobs is limited. This situation in many places leads some candidates to announce that they will allocate lands to Malagasy. But they did not all give precision

  • If it would be an exceptional or a long term public policy
  • And who will benefit : Malagasy peasants doing family agriculture or investors whether be Malagasy or foreigners ?

The future president should pay attention to food self sufficiency in his economic policy in order to eradicate poverty and malnutrition.

As soon as 2012, the Tany Collective recommended in each municipality the allocation of lands dedicated to local development and particularly to family agriculture, which is for us the only way to guarantee food security and ensure food sovereignty for present and future generation. (16)

Land allocation to Malagasy people, young and less young, according to various modalities, should help increasing cultivated surfaces with a view to family subsistence and national market in priority, and export next. Programs of installing families on new lands should take lessons of past and present successes and failures (17) in terms of training/ advising and coaching for the availability of various basic public services. The state responsibility in securing rural areas in order to not remove motivation of newly installed is fundamental.

Malagasy peasants life and work conditions are difficult while they must meet food needs of peoples in towns and country sides. Their efforts merit being supported by all citizens, and firstly the future President. So the presidential projects which threaten to destroy lands and housing over thousands of hectares, as the Sahanivotry project of the Hydelec/Tozzi Green company in the Vakinankaratra region (18), as well as the State approved declarations for companies such as Toliara Sands/Base Toliara (19) in the South West region should be questioned as they destroy and wreck several generations work.


The Tany Collective underlines since many years the need for each citizen to be vigilant and to contribute actively in the management and follow up of Malagasy lands. Our proposals to include the analysis of principles and projects of candidates about land and agriculture in the decision of each voter are part of this position. Only participation and expression of all citizens by voting and after their vigilance all along the year, will lead decision makers to act more for the interests of the majority of population. The Tany Collective hopes that inhabitants risking to be expelled from lands who are mentioned in this document, as well as those were not mentioned, will win in their fight for a better social justice.

Unfortunately all Malagasy natural resources are subject to “agreements”, to the detriment of the population, between Malagasy responsible persons and foreign investors. As all institutions and organisations who request cancelling the project of operating sea resources on Malagasy coasts by a Chinese consortium with a 330 boats float, the Tany Collective considers that this project should be banned as it will surely destroy environment and reduce revenues of Malagasy fishermen (20). Many countries in the world prepare the future of their population food by looking for natural resources outside their territory ; let us not select leaders who are in a risk of selling off the content of our seas, as well as our lands, one of our most precious common goods. These projects are threatening to bring further hunger to Malagasy people in the coming years.

Paris November 5, 2018 (translated on 02 Dec 2018)

The TANY Collective for the Defense of Malagasy lands

References  :

(2) et
(3) et
(5) et
(15) et
(17) ; ; ;
(18) et
(19) et
(20) ;