Last June, the Oakland Institute exposed the largest land deal in Tanzania, which had been hidden away from public scrutiny and discussion. In this deal, Iowa-based Bruce Rastetter’s AgriSol Energy LLC partnered with Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to lease more than 325,000 hectares without public debate or consent.
The Oakland Institute has been shining a spotlight on this land grab through research and advocacy since our original research revealed how Bruce Rastetter leveraged ISU’s involvement to provide legitimacy to a land grab masquerading as responsible agricultural investment. The project was portrayed as sustainable agriculture, all the while plans were being laid to develop large-scale monocrops, use high levels of chemicals, and even ask for changes in the national biosafety regulations so that genetically modified crops could be grown.
A year later, the top news in Iowa is an Associated Press story of incriminating emails concerning Bruce Rastetter--showing a conflict of interest and profit motive behind AgriSol’s partnership with Iowa State University in the controversial Tanzania land deal. Rastetter's position as an ISU regent makes his scheme to develop a lucrative agricultural deal even more flagrant.
This project, which was once steamrolling in Tanzania, has now ground to a halt. But it hasn’t been stopped for good.
How a university became involved in a land grab that would displace 160,000 residents already farming the land is a dirty story that is now unraveled.
By now, the university has completely withdrawn any support or association with the project.
We need your help to prevent deals like this from ever being on the table.
That the AgriSol deal has gone sour is just one example of how research with a purpose can change the world. That’s what we do at the Oakland Institute.
The Oakland Institute research has been critical in empowering local communities and decision makers in many countries so they can make informed choices about the investment they need to develop their agriculture and overcome hunger and poverty. By providing information and analysis, sponsoring radio programs in local languages, and hosting events on the ground around agricultural investments, the Institute is working to ensure people have a say in their own future. This work has already resulted in popular mobilization in countries such as South Sudan and Sierra Leone as well as increasing awareness for many decision makers across the world.
We are committed to a world free of hunger, which requires policies and investments that will benefit the people, not just a handful of businessmen, investors, and politicians. It is our mission to unearth and publish information that propels activism and builds change. To continue this work, we look to individuals and foundations that are committed to the same work and goals for support.
We hope that we can count on your continued support and ask you to make a generous gift to the Institute today so we can continue our shared work and build coalitions to make real change.