Senegalese villagers vow to fight biofuels project

August 9, 2012
A farmer in northern Senegal rakes his field in 2004. Villagers from northern Senegal vowed Thursday to fight a project by Senegalese and Italian investors to produce biofuels on their land, a venture already forced to relocate once by deadly protests.

Villagers from northern Senegal vowed Thursday to fight a project by Senegalese and Italian investors to produce biofuels on their land, a venture already forced to relocate once by deadly protests.

"We will fight those who want to take our land. It is the land of our ancestors, an area of 26,000 hectares which houses villages, thousands of heads of cattle, mosques, cemeteries," Oumar Ba, a representative of a collective of affected villages, told journalists.

"Whoever wants to take our land will first walk over our dead bodies," said Ba, who lives in the village of Ndiael in the region of the same name.

The Senegalese-Italian company Senethanol/Senhuile had recently announced it was moving the project from the village of Fanaye, where violent protests in October 2011 left two people dead, leading government to suspend the venture.

Senethanol/Senhuile wants to grow for the production of biofuels, a which has soared in popularity as oil prices rise and concerns grow over emissions from traditional fuels.

The United States and Brazil are the biggest producers, but investors have been criticised for buying up large swathes of land in Africa to produce fuel to be exported to their nations.

Senethanol/Senhuile has denied its project is an example of land-grabbing, and last year described it as "an unquestionable interest in the improvement of the economic and of the villages concerned and all Senegalese."

But the organisation is again encountering resistance at its new project site.

"The case of Fanaye must serve as a lesson to authorities," said Marieme Sow of the NGO Enda Pronat, who denounced "land-grabbing in Senegal by multi-nationals."

"We are making this appeal for government to realise that 60 percent of the population of this country is made up of farmers who need this land."

Senegalese rap group "Bidew Bou Bess" (New Star in the Wolof language) presented a song called "Don't Touch My Land" to journalists.

"Let's block the road to those who want to plunder our land. Let's stop those who tear up our land. They want our land for profit. They are colonising us, they are using us," the song said.

Explore further: New methods used to follow land use

Related Stories

New methods used to follow land use

June 12, 2006

Dutch researcher Koen Overmars has used a combination of analyses to gain insight into how land use is changing in San Mariano on the Philippines.

Kenya biofuel project opposed

March 23, 2011

Environmental goups Wednesday protested an expansive project to grow jatropha in Kenya for biofuels, arguing that such production would emit more carbon than fossil fuels.

Recommended for you

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?

November 26, 2015

More than 190 countries are meeting in Paris next week to create a durable framework for addressing climate change and to implement a process to reduce greenhouse gases over time. A key part of this agreement would be the ...

Don't forget plankton in climate change models, says study

November 26, 2015

A new study from the University of Exeter, published in the journal Ecology Letters, found that phytoplankton - microscopic water-borne plants - can rapidly evolve tolerance to elevated water temperatures. Globally, phytoplankton ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2012
The simple solution would be to ask the farmers to grow the sweet potatoes for Senethanol/Senhuile, and then sell them to Senethanol/Senhuile.

Of course then Senethanol/Senhuile would have to pay a fair price.... hmmm OK, that's probably not going to happen then.
3 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2012
Why don't the villagers become the investors?
Farmers created co-opertives to process and sell their products?
Of course they must understand business.

"Foreign investment in Senegal is retarded by Senegal''s unfriendly business environment."

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.