Sugar wars: 35 years of bitter feuds in Central Malawi

 by Collins Mtika

For 35 years now, more than 400 subsistence farmers at Chisita in Malawi’s central region have been traversing the country’s courts, nongovernmental organisations and the offices of the ombud in a bid to reclaim 600 hectares of land, which Illovo Malawi occupied in 1979.

The farmers claim the company, in collusion with a senior chief, pushed them off their land and illegally converted it into part of its behemoth sugar cane plantation.“I lost three hectares which were my livelihood. They pushed us to the hills where the land is infertile. Now I am suffering,” said farmer Peter Kaunda.Illovo insists that its corporate predecessor, Lonrho Sugar, legally leased the land in the 1970s. It claims the farmers were paid compensation by the Malawi government and denies there is any dispute about the land Illovo is farming now.The Malawi Stock Exchange-listed company, which is 76% owned by Illovo South Africa, has 6 159 hectares of sugar plantation with an annual production of 2.8-million tonnes of sugar. – See more at:


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