Controversy Surrounds Land Grabbing in Southwest Madagascar

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read

A new case of land grabbing is stirring concerns among associations advocating for the rights of small-scale farmers. In the southwest region, specifically in an area known as Bas Mangoky, around 2,000 peasant families reportedly no longer have access to their cultivated plots, passed down through generations.

According to these associations, instead of conducting a census on these 6,000 hectares and fulfilling the promised restitution of titled and demarcated plots by local authorities, the land has allegedly been allocated to individuals unrelated to these communities.

Some of these individuals include high-ranking officials using proxies. Three farmers were arrested in late December on charges of “destruction of public property” after attempting to expose these actions.

In a statement released yesterday, peasant advocacy groups urge the government to launch an investigation to shed light on the matter and “return the land to farmers victimized by the land grabs.” Fima (Fikambanan’ny Masikoro Arivolahy), one of the signatory associations, strongly condemns the situation.

Elia Rabevahiny, the vice president in Antananarivo, summarizes the issue: “In 2015, extensive irrigation works were carried out in this area, covering nearly 6,000 hectares. The new canal added value to all these fields of rice, kabaro, onions, and cassava. However, in 2022, these farmers, who had occupied the land for generations, were told that others now held titles and were the rightful landowners.”

Names of High Authorities Mentioned

The names of several high-ranking officials are mentioned among the new landowners, starting with the regional governor of Atsimo Andrefana, Edally Ranoelson, who also chairs the commission responsible for land reassignment.

Ranoelson refutes the allegations, stating, “It’s a baseless and false claim. In the Bas-Mangoky region, I do not own any land in my name, nor have I built a house: this can be verified at any time! When it comes to immovable property like land, it cannot be stolen because it cannot be mobilized or moved. If I had malicious intent, I could file a complaint in court for defamation.”

Land Traffickers

While confirming attempted land grabbing by certain individuals he views as “land traffickers,” the governor acknowledges that his commission has decided to grant full land rights to farmers working on five hectares or less. Discussions for other requests are reportedly still ongoing.

Andriamanantena Razafiharison, the new Minister of Higher Education and former president of the University of Tuléar, whose name is also implicated as a land beneficiary, strongly denies these allegations, considering them “defamatory accusations intended to mislead public opinion about his person.”

Soukaina Sghir

Share this Article
Leave a comment