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Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
Reconsidering the consistency between
principles and practices for Technical
Cooperation between Developing Countries:
A critical analysis of ProSavana
Reconsiderando a consistência entre princípios
e práticas para a Cooperação Técnica entre
Países em Desenvolvimento: Uma análise crítica
do ProSavana
DOI: 10.21530/ci.v11n3.2016.354
Niels Søndergaard
The present article analyses the relationship between principles and practices for Technical
Cooperation between Developing Countries (TCDC), in the case of Brazilian-Mozambican
collaboration within the ProSavana programme. The notion of horizontality can be identified
as a strong part of the ideational basis for Brazilian development cooperation. Such egalitarian
conceptions are also strongly reflected within the discourse of the ProSavana programme, but
their effectuation encounters a range of complications related to the practical implementation
and difficulties with aligning the multitude of different motivations, development perceptions
and particular interests permeating the programme. Analysis aimed at the implications of
the initiative at the local level indicates that a series of socio-economic issues, related to
land tenure and community inclusion might conflict directly with the notion of horizontal
cooperation. The article therefore argues that a layered approach, with a focus beyond
inter-governmental relations, and comprising of local community consultancy and civil
society inclusion, is necessary for such cooperation projects to be consistent with their
basis of principles.
Keywords: Cooperation, development, agriculture, South-South relations, Mozambique.
1 Doutorando no Instituto de Relações Internacionais (IREL) da Universidade de Brasília, (UnB).
Artigo submetido em 08/03/2016 e aprovado em 18/07/2016.
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Niels Søndergaard
O presente artigo analisa a relação entre princípios e práticas na Cooperação Técnica entre
Países em Desenvolvimento (CTPD), no caso da colaboração Brasileira-Moçambicana dentro
do programa de ProSavana. O conceito de horizontalidade pode ser identificado como uma
parte substancial da base ideacional na cooperação pelo desenvolvimento do Brasil. Tais
concepções igualitárias também refletem fortemente dentro do discurso do programa de
ProSavana, porém, a sua efetuação encontra uma série de complicações relacionadas à
implementação prática e dificuldades de alinhar a multiplicidade de diferentes motivações,
percepções sobre o desenvolvimento e interesses particulares que permeiam o programa.
Análise focada nas implicações dessa iniciativa no nível local indica que uma série de
questões socioeconômicas, relacionadas à posse de terra e inclusão de comunidades, possa
contrariar a noção de cooperação horizontal. O artigo portanto argumenta que uma abordagem
abrangendo diferentes níveis de foco, indo além das relações inter-governamentais, e que
compreende consulta das comunidades locais e inclusão da sociedade civil, é necessária
para que tais iniciativas sejam coerentes com a sua base de princípios.
Palavras chaves: Cooperação, desenvolvimento, agricultura, relações sul-sul, Moçambique.
South-South cooperation, and the question of whether such initiatives
represent a fundamentally alternative model for development assistance, has gained
evermore attention along with its increasing proliferation from the turn of the
millennium. The present article evaluates the consistency between the conceptual
basis and practical implementation of Technical Cooperation between Developing
Countries (TCDC) in the case of the Brazilian engagement within Mozambique,
through the ProSavana trilateral development initiative. The concept of horizontality
and principles adjacent to this notion are reviewed within literature focusing upon
South-South cooperation, and scrutinized in relation to their appearance within
Brazilian TCDC. The underlying principles for Brazilian cooperation practices have
gained a more concrete character within the Brazilian Cooperation Agency´s (ABC)
essential guidelines for development projects
. These guidelines serve to structure
the analysis of ProSavana in order to evaluate to what extent the dimensions to
2 The central guidelines for Brazilian technical cooperation are formulated by the ABC as: 1) emphasis on home
country development priorities, 2) preference for programs which deepen political and economic relations,
3) emphasis upon knowledge transfer, 4) emphasis upon human recourse training, consultancy and institutional
infrastructure support, 5) preference for programs with local recourse mobilization, 6) prioritization of projects
with high multiplier effects and, 7) orientation towards projects with concentrated results. (ABC, 2005).
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Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
which they relate are characterized by horizontal interactions between Brazil
and Mozambique. Though the trilateral constitution of ProSavana also comprises
Japan, emphasis is put on the Brazilian engagement within Mozambique, which
is considered a significant case in displaying the opportunities, limits and trade-
offs that result from cooperation strategies with highly multifaceted objectives.
The article applies a dual analytical focus upon official governmental interactions
as opposed to local stakeholders and rural communities, in order to understand
how the differentiated consequences produced at these two levels entail different
sets of conclusions regarding the horizontal nature of the ProSavana initiative.
Perspectives on cooperation between developing countries
Cooperation between Third World countries emerged as an alternative
development path in the 1960´s, inspired by the same ideological currents that led
to the Non-Aligned Movement, and has strong roots stretching back to Bandung
Conference of 1955. Its incipient institutionalization began with the Buenos
Aires Plan of Action, created at the UN Conference of 1978, within which it was
formulated as Technical Cooperation between Developing Countries (TCDC).
Today, it is often treated as a phenomenon within the category of South-South
cooperation, which is defined by the United Nations Development Program as
a broad framework for collaboration among countries of the South in the
political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains.When
South-South cooperation is supported by traditional donator countries or
by multilateral organizations, it is characterized as ‘triangular cooperation’
(UNDP, 2016).
The surge in cooperation initiatives amongst developing countries after the
turn of the millennium has also spurred a great amount of academic interest in
mapping, critically scrutinizing and conceptualizing this type of international
engagement. Fantu Cheru (2011) ascribes great importance to the room of maneuver
which the translocations within the international system, from a bipolar towards
a more multipolar order, have left for developing countries (CHERU 2011, p. 47).
Cheru stresses how this has resulted in a newfound ‘policy space´(Ibid) within
which developing countries have gained an unprecedented opportunity to pursue
an offensive strategic engagement in order to alter global economic arrangements
to their favor (Ibid, p. 45). Some of the essential changes around which the
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Niels Søndergaard
interests of developing countries may converge are pinpointed by the author as
a more democratized system for global governance, an increasingly horizontal
international trade regime as well as the re-evaluation of aid conditionality (Ibid
2011, p. 50-52).
Francisco Simplício similarly perceives the present momentum for cooperation
amongst developing countries as a unique historical opportunity, due to the
unprecedented monetary and technical recourses that have become available in
these parts of the world (SIMPLÍCIO 2011, p. 35). The task at hand is to define a
range of institutional and financial mechanisms through which these capabilities
may be transformed into a mutually beneficial cooperation between the partners
involved (Ibid, p. 19). Simplício also underlines the importance of the logic
permeating South-South cooperation being essentially different from that of
North-South arrangements, through an increased attention to home countries
development priorities, combined with an aspiration towards mutual gain which
serves to dissolute the ‘donator-recipient’ paradigm (Ibid, pp.4-5). The surging
trend of Southern cooperation initiatives is even characterized by Patrick Clairzier
(2011) as directly consequential of the negative experiences faced by developing
countries, due to the free-marked oriented conditionality of North-South official
development assistance (CLAIRZIER, 2011).
Thus, cooperation amongst developing countries may, in this perspective be
seen as a trend of collective contestation of an externally imposed developmental
vision. An analogous perspective is expressed by Diego Rodrigues (2010), who
underlines how the institutionalization of coalitions of developing countries has
become a strategic recourse in order to confront inequalities embedded within the
international system, through more horizontal modes of cooperation (RODRIGUES,
2010). The notion of horizontality as opposed to verticality, is also central to Caicedo
and Castro (2010), and lies at the hearth of their explanation of how the power
to define ideas and their concomitant development models, has been deprived
from the South. The horizontal mode of cooperation is, thus, born out of, and
simultaneously foments, a crucial ability to reflect upon themselves as generators
of legitimate development experiences (CAICEDO; CASTRO 2010, p. 93). Yet,
Caicedo and Castro also draw attention to the danger of South-South cooperation
assuming the same vertical character as that of North-South relations, and thereby
spur inequality within the South (Ibid, p. 99). In relation to this question, Renu
Modi accentuates how the nature of relationships between emergent intermediate
states and African countries is of a somehow more ‘genuine’ nature, and involves
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Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
projects with a broader development impact, empowering African countries and
stimulating their independent engagement at the global level (MODI, 2011).
This raises the question of whether the shared development experiences of
countries of the Global South have indeed produced some sort of kinship and
congenital mutual empathy. Nel & Taylor (2013) have analyzed the notion of South-
South solidarity through use of the Durkheimian distinction between mechanical
and organic solidarity. While the first refers to a more objective identification of
affiliation with an ‘other’ which is in a less fortunate situation than oneself, the
latter is associated with a much deeper appreciation of the distinctiveness of this
‘other´, and with the recognition of the essence of his/her needs. Through an
evaluation of the relationships between a group of relatively powerful emerging
states and less recourse-endowed and smaller countries, Nel & Taylor identify a
clear tendency amongst the dynamic emergent economies to disregard the interests
of their more fragile peers. As the character of South-South cooperation often does
not reach beyond what is termed as mechanical solidarity, the authors underline
that this type of engagement losses its essence and runs the risk of becoming a
fetishisation of growth and trade. (NEL; TAYLOR 2013, pp.1106-1107)
Though some of the prevailing perspectives on technical cooperation amongst
developing countries diverge to some degree over the issue of distribution of
benefits between nations, they do tend to converge to the extent that they all
apply a state-centric perspective. Sanusha Naidu (2011), for example, emphasizes
the differentiated impacts which the entry of emergent intermediate states has
within African countries. This approach begs a range of questions related to how
this affects the ability of civil society and social movements to promote their own
interests and poses the question of whether the “national interests” of African
governments are indeed analogous to the “national interests” of the population
at large (Ibid, p. 211-212). Thus, Naidu draws analytical attention to civil society
struggles for inclusivity and the issue of how South-South cooperation affects
social development (Ibid, p. 215-216).
Brazilian cooperation and the notion of horizontality
Reducing asymmetries within the international system has been a central
Brazilian policy priority since the turn of the millennium. This urge for transformation
has resulted in an activist foreign policy through which the aspiration to create
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Niels Søndergaard
consensus for change within the South has been backed by investment, the
provision of technical assistance and political support for other developing countries
(PINO 2012, p. 194). Since the creation of the Brazilian Agency for Cooperation
(ABC) in 1987, the intention has been to pursue a strategy for international
cooperation emphasizing a non-vertical approximation with other developing
countries (MENDONÇA; FARIA 2015, p. 7). Various Brazilian governments have
sought to distinguish ‘aid’ and ‘assistance’ from ‘cooperation’, which reflects
the will to dissociate Brazilian initiatives from the perceived paternalism and
political interference of traditional development assistance on a more fundamental
ideational level (INOUE; VAZ 2013, p. 509-510).
Cooperation initiatives with other developing countries gained unprecedented
significance during the administrations of the centre-left President Lula da Silva,
and many political and organizational recourses were allocated to this area. Lula´s
restructuring of the Foreign Ministry also meant that the Africa Department was
separated from the Middle East Department, which implied a stronger bureaucratic
specialization in African affairs (MENDONÇA; FARIA, 2015 p. 11). The Lula
government´s spotlight on Africa is illustrated by the number of presidential
visits to African countries, totaling 29, distributed on 12 trips from 2003 to 2010
(MUKWEREZA 2015, p. 5). The 30% increase in the number of Brazilian embassies
abroad during the Lula period was also strongly felt in Africa. This was highly
linked to the increase in cooperation projects, which served as a foreign policy
instrument related to the goal of projecting international influence, the opening of
markets and support for the internationalization of Brazilian companies (INOUE;
VAZ 2013, p. 529). The explicit objective of fomenting the global engagement
of Brazilian companies was a marked foreign policy concern during the Lula
government (CERVO; BUENO 2011, p. 544-545). This goal thereby constituted a
tendency which coincided with the African focus, and also concretely became
manifest through the significant personal efforts of the president as a distinguished
representative of Brazilian business in the continent, which helped secure a range
of major agreements. Though some Brazilian companies have been present in
Africa since the 1980´s, recent diplomatic engagement has served to open many
new doors for businesses exploiting the opportunities of the booming raw material
prices at the time. This has been characterized as a second wave of Brazilian
investment, which not only includes the more established private players within
construction and recourse extraction, but also a range of newly internationally
oriented small and medium companies (RENZIO et al. 2014, p. 11).
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Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
The principles of Brazilian international cooperation can be traced back to
the Bandung Conference (1955) and the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (1978) and
aims at substituting an assistencialist approach with one of mutually beneficial
cooperation (MILHORANCE 2013, p. 6). As a fundamental guideline for Brazilian
engagement in South-South cooperation, the notion of horizontality has come to
assume an outstanding importance (CABRAL; SHANKLAND 2012, p. 3; INOUE;
VAZ 2013, p. 510; PATRIOTA; PIERRI 2013, p. 129;STUENKEL 2014, p. 3;). The
ABC defines horizontality as one of the pillars of Brazilian technical cooperation
and stresses its importance in relation to intensifying partnerships with developing
countries, as well as its essentiality as part of a solidarity-oriented foreign policy
(ABC, 2016 (1)). A range of significant principles for Brazilian TCDC which are
either born out of, or adjacent to the idea of horizontality, can nonetheless be
identified as; solidarity diplomacy (PATRIOTA; PIERRI 2013, p. 129) the principle
of non-interference in domestic affairs (CABRAL et al 2013, p. 2), demand driven
projects (BRY 2015, p. 453), appreciation of local knowledge (LEITE et al. 2014, p.
21), non-conditionality (SANTOS; CERQUEIRA 2015, p. 38), and no association with
commercial interests (BARBOSA, 2012, p. 117-118). Considering these principles
as sub-components of the general concept of horizontality within Brazilian
cooperation, it becomes possible to treat this notion in a more concrete manner. It
also permits the identification of different dimensions of this principle within ABC´s
guidelines for technical cooperation, which are stated as 1) emphasis on home
country development priorities, 2) preference for programs which deepen political
and economic relations, 3) emphasis on transference of knowledge, 4) emphasis
on human recourse training, consultancy and institutional infrastructure support,
5) preference for programs with local recourse mobilization, 6) prioritization
of projects with high multiplier effects and, 7) orientation towards projects
with concentrated results (ABC, 2005). Through these guidelines, principles of
horizontality appear to have assumed a more tangible nature, which thus allows
a more concrete evaluation of the manner in which they characterize particular
projects of Brazilian cooperation.
As Fernando Abreu, General Director of the ABC stressed in a 2013 article, the
horizontal modality of Brazilian cooperation also serves an important functional
purpose within the country´s foreign policy, by intensifying relations with
developing partner countries (ABREU, 2013, p. 7). Some of Brazil´s ‘comparative
advantages’ in terms of development cooperation are formulated by the ABC as
‘Geographical location, cultural heritage, social and economic challenges common
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Niels Søndergaard
to those of beneficiary countries’ (ABC, 2016 (2)). Due to the subordination of
Brazilian cooperation initiatives below the broader foreign policy framework,
an important aspect has to do with the instrumental concern of projecting
influence amongst developing countries, which in term is translated into an
increased legitimacy and weight within international negotiations (PINO 2012,
p. 198). Brazilian engagement in Africa has generally been justified through the
horizontality and Southern solidarity discourse, which nonetheless has been partly
challenged by the practical experiences generated by the increased presence of
its corporations (CABRAL 2015, p. 5). Though the ABC clearly underlines that
Brazilian cooperation is unrelated to any commercial purpose, its market-opening
and trade facilitating potential has been hinted at (INOUE; VAZ 2013, p. 527). Vaz
also underlines that in addition to other foreign policy objectives, the interests of
the Brazilian agribusiness sectors have been a vital part of the country´s strategy
for agricultural cooperation in Africa (VAZ, 2015, p. 166).
The mutual presence of altruistic/solidary as well as pragmatic concerns
in Brazilian cooperation policies, raises the question as to what degree they are
compatible, or whether they might imply some inherently incongruent features
which may compromise their horizontal character. Even though he accentuates
that Brazil´s cooperation efforts in Africa do indeed imply a noticeable economic
aspect, Vaz stresses that it should not be perceived as a primary concern (VAZ 2015,
p. 178). In spite of the large proportion of agricultural projectswithin Brazilian
TCDC, no official policy has yet been formulated in relation to projects specifically
within this sector. This may in part be explained by the fragmented nature of
Brazilian institutions for agricultural governance (CABRAL; SHANKLAND 2012,
p. 12; CABRAL et al 2013, pp.9-10). Hereby, the internal power struggles within
the Brazilian agricultural regime spill over onto the international sphere, where
– as the paper shall explore – new sub- and transnational issue coalitions emerge
with the purpose of contesting or influencing the definition and implementation
of agricultural cooperation projects.
A marked feature of Brazilian cooperation is that it relies extensively on
technical and practical experiences accumulated within a range of public institutions
(PINO 2012, p. 198). The Institute for Agricultural Research (Embrapa), for
example, gained vital significance within the Brazilian cooperation policy (STOLTE
2012, p. 11). As the proportion of projects related to agriculture within Brazilian
international cooperation amounted to 21,9% between 2003-2010 (SCHLESINGER
2013, p. 8), Embrapa has played a central role. In 2008 approximately half of
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Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
ABC´s programs in Africa involved Embrapa´s participation, through transfer
and implementation of agricultural technology, training personnel and provision
of access to Brazilian agribusiness (ARKHANGELSKAYA; KHAMATSHIN 2013,
p. 165; MILHORANCE 2013, p. 13). Embrapa opened its first African office in
Ghana in 2008, and by 2012 the institute was involved in projects in 15 different
African countries, spanning over seed adaption and conservation, improvement
of crop resistance, soil optimization and post-harvest technologies (STOLTE
2012, p. 12). The ABC works closely together with Embrapa, but as it is an
agency of the Foreign Ministry, its autonomy is limited and its function is often
narrowed to coordination of operations (CABRAL; SHANKLAND 2012, p. 12-13;
CABRAL et al 2013, p. 4). Embrapa has been strongly involved in triangular
cooperation in its operations in different African countries, whereby either
an international organization or a developed country finance the transfer and
implementation of Embrapa´s technological expertise (IZIQUE 2008, p. 35).
Triangular cooperation projects have come to constitute around 20% of ABC´s
portfolio, and are highly concentrated in Mozambique (PINO 2012, p. 200). There
is a tendency for such triangular initiatives to become an increasingly common
feature of Brazilian TCDC (INOUE; VAZ 2013, p. 521). It has also been connected
to the country´s recent craving for recognition within multilateral fora and to
gain a leading stand amongst developing countries (GARCIA et al. 2013, p. 14).
Brazil´s foothold in Africa
Although often dated to the wave of decolonization in the 1960´s, the birth
of relations between Brazil and Africa can be traced to the late 1940´s (SARAIVA
2010, p. 174). Relations were carried on and partially intensified throughout the
authoritarian period, but Africa lost some relative weight as a Brazilian foreign
policy priority by the end of the century. With Lula assuming the presidency in 2003,
the emphasis on strengthening ties with the Global South meant that the African
continent, – which had been less prioritized during Fernando Henrique Cardoso´s
years in power – became more significant to the Brazilian international strategy
(FILHO 2012, p. 305). President Lula´s visits to different African countries in 2003
and 2004 were landmarks in the rebirth of the transatlantic Southern approximation
(SARAIVA 2010, p. 179). What has been known as Lula´s presidential diplomacy,
thus, was also emblematic of Brazil´s African relations during his term. This is
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Niels Søndergaard
reflected in a comparison of the number of cooperation agreements signed with
different African countries during the eight years of Cardoso and Lula respectively:
while during Cardoso´s period a total of 36 agreements were signed, during Lula’s
this number surged dramatically to 238 accords (MENDONÇA; FARIA 2015, p. 14).
Agriculture has been one of the main focus points for Brazilian cooperation
projects in Africa, and has accounted for 19% of total resources allocated to the
area (RENZIO et al. 2014, p. 13). The partnership with Brazil became a development
alternative to many African countries, while it simultaneously helped to secure
Brazil some important international leverage, as was the case with the election
of José Granizo da Silva as the Director General of the United Nations Food and
Agricultural Organization (FAO) in 2011 (Ibid, p. 7). The public initiative has
thereby been an essential factor, which has helped to garner diplomatic support
and international standing, but it also appears to have been an important driver
in order to spur intensifying economic relations (STOLTE 2012, p. 9). In the past
decade, trade between Brazil and Africa expanded rapidly, growing from $4,3
billion in 2000 to $28,5 billion in 2013 (MUGGAH, 2015). Brazilian investments
also surged during that period, from a $69 billion in 2001 to $214 billion in 2009,
spread widely beyond Brazil´s initial foothold in the Lusophone African countries
(ECONOMIST, 2012).
The Brazilian history of rapid agricultural production increases in the past
decades has also become a development experience which serves a purpose of
attraction in relation to many African countries (CHICHAVA et al 2013, p. 21). The
efforts to transfer these policies in form of development cooperation have even
been referred to as making Brazil a grand exporter of social technology (STUENKEL
2014, p. 4). Such circumstances have paved the ground for the somewhat
controversial statement by the former Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim,
that ‘for every African problem, there exists a Brazilian solution’ (AMORIM, 2011).
ProSavana and Mozambican realities
In Mozambique, agriculture holds a vital economic significance, as it is the
primary source of livelihood for approximately 80% of the population. (CHICHAVA
et al 2013, p. 5). Most of the country is situated on the Guinean Savannah, that
stretches throughout 481 million square kilometers in 25 countries on the African
sub-continent, and which is characterized by climatic conditions and soil types
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Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
that are largely similar to those on the Brazilian Cerrado savannah. At present,
estimates suggest that only 6,8% of the area is occupied by agriculture. (HARBS;
BACHA; HARBS. 2015, p. 63) Because Sub-Saharan Africa never has been through
an agricultural green revolution similar to that of many other developing countries,
it has been deemed the last agricultural frontier on the planet (WOERTZ; KEULERT
2015, p. 786). It is estimated that only around 14% of Mozambique´s 36 million
hectares of arable land are cultivated. Nearly all of the land is farmed by smallholders
with an average farm size of 1,1 hectares (ROSARIO 2012, p. 3). Yet, evaluations
of land use are extremely difficult to make because of crop rotation, and because
land not directly cultivated also may hold a purpose as source of nutrition or even
a specific cultural and religious significance (ROSSI 2015, p. 240). Agricultural
productivity in Mozambique is nonetheless very low. A 2006 FAO study suggested
that 38% of its inhabitants are undernourished (THALOR 2013, p. 148). The main
reasons for the productivity problems in Mozambican agriculture have been singled
out as the long period of internal conflict, the lack of infrastructure and investment
from public and private sources, as well as poor governance (ROSARIO 2012, p. 5).
In Mozambique, all land officially belongs to the state. Access is granted through
the Land Use and Benefit Titles also called DUAT (Direitos de Uso e Aproveito de
Terra). This permits foreign investors to lease the land in periods up to 50 years,
for a fee down to US $1 per hectare a year (CLEMENTS; FERNANDES 2013,
pp. 51-52). Individuals holding a land certificate may choose to sell or rent out
the land, which also creates room for the entry of private foreign capital, though
investors are obliged to seek consultation with the local community regarding the
specific use of the farmland (MILGROOM 2015, p. 592).
The ProSavana initiative was agreed upon in 2009, through a memorandum
of triangular cooperation signed by Mozambique, Brazil and Japan. The goal is an
extensive expansion of agricultural production and productivity in the provinces
of Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula and Zambésia, situated in what is known as
the ‘Nacala Corridor’ in the northern part of the country, spanning over an area
of around 540.000 square kilometers (PATRIOTA; PIERRI 2013, p. 132). These
areas have been selected due to their heavy rainfall and what has been estimated
as a high degree of available arable land (CLEMENTS; FERNANDES 2013, p. 54)
as well as the climatic and topographical similarities with the Brazilian Cerrado
(GARCIA et al 2013, p. 16). Embrapa describes ProSavana as a ‘project for the
improvement of the research capacity and technology transfer for the development
of agriculture in the Nacala Corridor.’ (EMBRAPA, 2016).
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Niels Søndergaard
ProSavana has been structured around three central components: The first
component, also known as the Investigation Plan, which is intended to run from
2011-2016, involves research with focus upon soil and plant properties and a series
of crop tests. The second central component of the program, the Director Plan,
consists of a mapping of the individual region´s producers and characteristics, in
order to define recommendations for cultivation and processing in six different
areas. The third and final stage, the Plan for Model Extension, focuses on the
proliferation of the techniques and models developed as part of the program.
There is a long-term perspective for the gradual implementation of the initiative
towards 2030. (HARBS; BACHA; HARBS 2015, p. 73-74)
The plan for ProSavana aims at contructing different clusters, within which the
production and processing of one or a few similar crops is concentrated, in order
to develop value added activities and reap the benefits of geographic proximity,
concentration of input providers and economies of scale. The plan currently seeks to
establish two clusters focusing on grains, one on horticulture, one on cashew production,
one on tea, and finally an integrated horticulture/grain cluster. (SCHLESINGER 2013,
p. 24) ProSavana relies strongly on the participation of Embrapa, which is responsible
for technical aspects of the initiative, while the project department of the Getúlio
Vargas Foundation´s (FGV Projetos) main responsibility is to define the Master Plan and
to bring private capital into the project. The program is implemented in cooperation
with the Mozambican Agricultural Ministry (MINAG) (MILHORANCE; GABAS 2015,
p. 7). Within the official Mozambican account of the program, the multifaceted
purpose of productivity increases, employment creation, poverty reduction, food
security and the incitement of marked-oriented rural development is emphasized
(GOV. MOZ, 2016).
Although ProSavana wields a strong focus on family agriculture, it also
implies a significant private sector aspect, related to agro-industrial expansion on
the African Savannah. Therefore, while the operational aspects of the program
are within the Foreign Ministry´s area of responsibility through ABC, the Getúlio
Vargas Foundation manages the mobilization of private capital from the Brazilian
agribusiness sector, which so far has displayed a considerable amount of interest in
the project. (VAZ 2015, p. 180) The foundation´s goal is to raise some US$2 billion
amongst Brazilian and Japanese investors, offering a minimum annual return of
10% while aiming at 20-22% (BATISTA, 2012). The Nacala Corridor Fund focuses
strongly on generation of returns for investors, through the implementation of an
integrated and competition oriented agribusiness model (FUNDAÇÃO GETÚLIO
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Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
VARGAS, 2015). The FGV works in close conjunction with the DWS Investments,
a Management enterprise below Deutche Bank (SCHLESINGER 2013, p. 9).
In 2011, chairman of the cotton producers’ association in MatoGrosso, Carlos
Ernesto Augustin, emphasized cheap access to farmland, absence of environmental
regulation and the relative proximity to the Chinese marked, as factors that
should raise interests amongst Brazilian agribusiness in repeating the agricultural
expansion in the Cerrado region, some 30 years ago (MELLO, 2011). In 2012, the
Mozambican Prime Minister at the time, Aires Bonifácio Baptista, also strongly
urged Brazilian agricultural investors to come to the country, assuring them that
they would face a favorable operational environment (CLEMENTS; FERNANDES
2013, p. 51). On the Japanese side, the main interest has been associated with
depressing the price of certain strategic agricultural commodities imported by the
country, by increasing the global supply.
Controversies and resistance
Issues pertaining to land distribution have been some of the most controversial
aspects of ProSavana, and have given birth to much questioning and contestation
regarding the program. The schism between traditional family farming and
commercial agriculture, which so strongly characterizes Brazilian agricultural
debates, seems to have been reproduced within a Mozambican context. As private
investment is ingrained as a significant element within ProSavana, a large measure
of uncertainty prevails regarding how much land is to be allocated to agribusiness
expansion as opposed to internal food consumption, and where this is to be found
(PATRIOTA; PIERRI 2013, p. 133). The Mozambican government has recently
been very active in facilitating foreign land acquisition, and between 2004 and
2009, more than a million hectares were conceded to international investment.
This made critical voices characterize the FRELIMO government as ‘complicit in
promoting land grabbing practices´. (CLEMENTS; FERNANDES 2013, p. 42)
The uncertainty and arbitrary information about the likely extend of Brazilian
agribusiness expansion in Mozambique has also fueled much concern, as has been
the case with the reports of official promises of designating as much as 6 million
hectares for this purpose (GARCIA et al 2013, p. 31). Although official data indicate
that 93% of the country´s arable land is presently uncultivated, other assessments
set that number much lower, at only around 7 million hectares; a number which is
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Niels Søndergaard
likely to fall markedly in the near future due to the country´s high rate of population
growth (THALOR 2013, p. 150). Projections based on satellite pictures of the
Lurio River Valley in the northeast of Mozambique point towards a more serious
perspective of potentially up to 500.000 people affected and 100.000 displaced in
that area alone (REUTERS, 2015).The divergence between official narratives of
“land abundance” and the perceptions of the local population is often remarkable.
The Niassa province serves as an example, as it is considered by program directors
to be a scarcely populated region, with a high potential for extensive agricultural
expansion. Yet, peasants living there claim that most of the area fit for cultivation
already is occupied, and that there is no space for the introduction of crops which
demand large trenches of farmland (SCHLESINGER 2013, p. 44).
A preliminary version of the Master Plan for ProSavana, which came to the
public´s knowledge in 2013, demonstrated that many projects were in a more
advanced stage of planning, than had so far been presumed. Amongst other
things, the plan aimed at abandoning crop rotation in favor of permanent soil
use, the extension of land titles as part of the identification of suitable areas for
agribusiness expansion, as well as the intensification of production through the
increased use of fertilizer and improved seeds (ROSSI 2015, p. 254-255). In this
regard, the project may be interpreted as an ambition towards an accelerated
enclosure movement implying the commodification of land and the intensification
of its use through modern agricultural inputs. Though the obtainment of land
titles might serve as a means for the local rural population to document its claim
to the land, the practical consequences of implementing a formalized system for
land tenure, in a social context in which traditional norms imply fundamentally
different definitions of the notion of land property, remain to be seen. The leaked
plan also revealed that of 16 projects proposed, 6 implied the risk of non-voluntary
relocations of the rural population (SCHLESINGER 2013, p. 29). In a similar manner,
the use of the term ‘available land’ has come to refer to land that might be open
for investment, – which does not discard the possibility that it already might be
claimed by someone else (Ibid 2013, p. 29). Yet, the proposal for the Master Plan
does not appear to outright exclude family agriculture, which is the focus of many
central projects within it. Rather, it seems to be the case that family agriculture is
sought incorporated into a more intensified and commercially oriented production
model, which apart from the previously mentioned changes also implies the
introduction of contract farming and development based on integration within
product clusters for value added activities (MILHORANCE; GABAS 2015, p. 11).
Rev. Carta Inter., Belo Horizonte, v. 11, n. 3, 2016, p. 172-198
Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
A joint statement signed by a range of Mozambican and international NGOs
in April 2013 also assumed a strongly critical stance towards the formulation of
ProSavana in the leaked documents. These groups were strongly opposed to what
they perceived as the forced abandonment of traditional farming practices, implying
the insertion into a contract farming regime and a production model entailing
dependence upon input purchases from agro-corporations (JOINT STATEMENT,
2013). Other worries have been expressed with regards to the fundamental
restructurings of the socioeconomic rural structure, which local organizations
fear that the ProSavana might bring about, by introducing a new set of employer-
employee production relations and undermining more diverse cultivations for
domestic consumption (GUARDIAN, 2014). Some of the criticism which has been
directed at ProSavana has expressed an essential preoccupation with what appears
to be an attempt to reproduce the Prodecer program for large-scale agricultural
expansion on the Cerrado, from the 1970´s. This critique thereby implies a
contestation of the fundamental model for rural development, which resulted from
the extensive introduction of commercial agriculture in central Brazil. The negative
assessments of the potential impact of capital intensive agribusiness expansion
in Mozambique revolves around the question of food security (CLEMENTS;
FERNANDES 2013, p. 62), neglect of the needs of local communities (RENZIO
et al. 2014, p. 14-15; CABRAL 2015, p. 5) as well as environmental degradation
(CHICHAVA et al 2013, p. 22). The experiences and errors of the Cerrado cultivation
nonetheless appear to have resulted in some measure of attention towards
avoiding some of the potentially negative consequences of this development
strategy. Embrapa does seem to have a certain degree of consciousness in terms
of anticipating and possibly ameliorating environmental impacts. This has been
expressed through Embrapa´s project for soil preservation and recuperation in
northern Mozambique (PATRIOTA; PIERRI 2013, p. 133). The provision of locally
produced food for school meals stands as another initiative that pays attention
to social development, inspired by Brazil´s national program for school feeding
(THALOR 2013, p. 156). Such initiatives, though, still constitute a relatively small
part of the program portfolio, and it remains to be seen whether they may provide
a viable path to guaranteeing a significant element of social and environmental
sustainability within the general project.
Although ProSavana is still only just in its initial stages, the project has
become widely contested by Mozambican farmers and civil society. In October
2012, the National Farmers Union (UNAC) published a statement which rejected
Rev. Carta Inter., Belo Horizonte, v. 11, n. 3, 2016, p. 172-198
Niels Søndergaard
the implementation of the model for agricultural expansion on the Brazilian
Cerrado within Mozambique. It also strongly criticized what was perceived as a
top-down implementation of a pre-defined project, which did not take the demands
of the rural population in the Nacala Corridor into consideration (UNAC, 2012).
Particularly, the lack of consultation seems to constitute a very significant obstacle
to the implementation of the programme. According to official sources, only about
1000 farmers were previously consulted, which amounts to about one in every
four thousand peasants in the provinces included within ProSavana (ROSSI 2015,
p. 242). The alleged lack of transparency has led to widespread fear of losing
their land amongst farmers in the northern part of the country, and contributed
to a negative perception of the initiative (CARVALHO, 2015).
The dispute about ProSavana has also gained an international dimension,
as opposing forces in Mozambique have begun to form transnational links with
peasant movements and NGO´s abroad, and launched a joint campaign against it
(MILHORANCE; GABBAS 2015, p. 11-12). In 2013, civil society organizations in
Mozambique, Japan and Brazil published an open letter with a harsh critique of
ProSavana (ROSSI 2015, p. 235-236). At the Second Triangular Peoples Conference
in Maputo in July 2014, the ProSavana´s focus on export-oriented agriculture was
strongly contested, and social movements present at the event called for a fundamental
redefinition of the purpose of the program, in the direction of strengthening the
emphasis on food production for local communities (SUZETE, 2014).
Within Mozambique, lines of contestation can be identified between the
government and a critical movement amongst peasants and rural organizations.
The political elite within the country tends to accentuate the importance of
modernization and the pursuit of a technology-intensive development model
(CHICHAVA et al 2013, p. 24). This has led to a perception of traditional agriculture
as backwards, and to a tendency to exclude smallholders from public policy
programs within agriculture, which lean towards supporting export-oriented
agriculture (MILHORANCE; GABBAS 2015, p. 10). The close ties between the
agrarian and the political elite within Mozambique, also serve to cement a
consensus of agricultural policies favoring foreign investment and more capital
intensive production (CABRAL et al 2016, p. 17). In Brazil, segments within
governmental institutions have characterized the mobilization against ProSavana
as ideologically motivated, and strongly related to well-defined positions within
the Brazilian struggle to define agricultural policies (CABRAL 2015, p. 13).
Intra-institutional divisions nevertheless also appear to be evident in Brazil, as
Rev. Carta Inter., Belo Horizonte, v. 11, n. 3, 2016, p. 172-198
Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
the Ministry for Agrarian Development (MDA) – which normally is identified
as supporting smallholders – has begun to distance itself from ProSavana and
portrayed it as a model that should not be followed (CABRAL et al. 2016, p. 18).
Re-evaluating horizontality
In line with Naidu´s (2011) emphasis on the issue of civil society inclusion within
South-South cooperation, the formulation and initial repercussions of ProSavana also
point towards very different reactions and impact perceptions at the official level
and at the local level, respectively. The official guidelines for Brazilian cooperation,
which are strongly nurtured by principles of horizontality, must thereby be evaluated
within both of these dimensions, in order to reach an understanding of whether
the specific formulation and preliminary repercussions of the ProSavana initiative
reflect their ideational basis. Chart 1 illustrates the difference in repercussions and
critical assessments of ProSavana between these two levels of analysis, in relation
to each of the essential guidelines for Brazilian cooperation projects:
Chart 1: Guidelines for Brazilian technical cooperation and their ramifications
within the national and local dimensions of ProSavana
State-to-state level analysis Local level analysis
projects linked
to national
programs and
The official Mozambican
posture is strongly emphatic of the
possibilities which Pro-Savanah
contains in order to confront
some of the crucial development
challenges of the country.
The Director Plan in its present formulation
has character of a top-down technically driven
process, largely negligent to the particular
needs of each region, which the absence of
consultative mechanisms exacerbates.
Give preference
to programs
that provoke
of relations
and open good
for political.
and economic
cooperation with
The central role of private
foreign investment in ProSavana´s
present formulation, has been
strongly endorsed by the
Mozambican government, and does
hold the potential of intensifying
politico-economic relations between
Mozambique and Brazil.
It is highly uncertain whether private
investments will produce constructive impacts
amongst local populations and stakeholders.
They risk becoming "isolated islands" and
object of local recent due to any negative
spillovers of the lax regulation which attracted
investment in the first place. Transnational
NGO mobilization against ProSavana indicates
a tendency for this program to backlash
upon the governments involved through the
antagonization of rural communities and civil
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Niels Søndergaard
State-to-state level analysis Local level analysis
programs that
enable transfer
and absorption
of knowledge
within a critical
which produces
creation and
The strong emphasis on transfer
of agricultural technology within
ProSavana implies a potential for
significant technical innovation,
through active internalization by
Mozambican actors. The cluster-
based development model is
characterized by a strong element
of specialization in the production
of a particular crop, and above all,
the Brazilian technical capacity in
grain and cashew production holds
the potential to boost production of
crops with a high export-potential.
The program contains a goal of
technological transfers to industrialized
agriculture as well as smallholders, but the
balance between these two elements is still
uncertain. Technological innovations imply
differentiated consequences regarding the
socio-environmental impacts of their adoption,
particularly within the agricultural field.
The introduction of specialized
monoculture in certain regions of the
country, also means that though tea, cashew
and horticulture – in contrast to large-
scale grain production – might be adopted
by smallholders, this implies a profound
restructuring in direction of commercial
dependency away from self-sufficiency.
Expansion of plantation cultures upon land
previously used for a social purposerisks
substituting self-sufficient family farming by
wage labor, spurring the proletariazation of
the rural workforce.
projects which
the basic
of technical
such as
of human
training and
of institutional
The Master Plan lays a
strong emphasis on supporting
the Mozambican government´s
institutional planning capacity, as
well as a significant element of
technological transfer and training.
The aim of technology transfer towards
the Mozambican National Directorate of
Rural Extension does reflect a considerable
focus upon human and institutional capacity
development at the local level.
Yet, the strong emphasis upon the
governmental partners in the formulation of
the Master Plan means that so far, it has been
articulated as a top-down implementation
of a production model upon smallholders,
without proper previous consultation and
evaluation of needs formulated at the local
level. Legalization of land entitlement risks
spurring an enclosure movement, and the
commodification of land which previously
served a more diffuse, yet essential social
purpose. Such a development collides strongly
with the notion of local consultation and
other fundamental practices of development
Rev. Carta Inter., Belo Horizonte, v. 11, n. 3, 2016, p. 172-198
Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
State-to-state level analysis Local level analysis
Give preference
to projects that
are clearly
matched by
mobilized by
the counterpart
and constitute a
substantial part
of the general
Due to a lack of capital,
Mozambican recourse mobilization
has mostly been expressed as the
promise of designating 6 million
hectares of land to agribusiness
expansion. In some sense, this
does constitute a significant effort
of recourse mobilization, but also
raises the question of whether the
close-to-unconditional opening
of land markets to foreign capital
is in line with the notion of non-
conditionality of cooperation.
The difficulty of mobilizing recourses
amongst subsistence farmers at the local level
means that these have only gained a limited
influence within the project formulation, and
may be negatively affected by the concessions
of common lands by the government to
foreign investors. The strong accentuation of
private investments in the project formulation
also raises a critical question, related to
whether the imperatives of capital return are
compatible with inclusive rural development.
projects that
enable the
creation of
multiplier effects
The third stage of the Plan for
Model Extension which implies
the proliferation of techniques
and models developed within the
program contains a potential for
generation of multiplier effects and
important national spillovers within
Mozambican agriculture at large.
Dispersion of the model developed in the
Nacala Corridor, depending on the results
of its final implementation, holds the risk
of materializing as an intend to forcefully
disseminate an exclusionary rural development
model. It is furthermore questionable whether
large-scale industrial monoculture will imply
positive spillovers for local production.
projects which
guarantee a
broad results,
thereby avoiding
the pulverization
and dispersion of
The marked geographical
concentration of the ProSavana
program within the Nacala Corridor
reflects a planning structure which
is highly likely to ensure that
productive synergies are achieved
between the different agriculturally
related industries. If successfully
executed, the replication of the
Proceder program of the Cerrado
does hold the potential to spur
production of crops with a high
export potential, and thus provide
broader economic impacts.
At its present formulation, the program
appears to be somewhat characterized
by a uni-dimensional emphasis upon
economic results, in terms of growth and
exports. A more multifaceted perspective
upon the diversified social, environmental
and economic consequences of such a
development model should be applied, so as
to evaluate the whole scale of results from
such a profound rural restructuring, and how
they interact.
Source: author´s own elaboration
The evaluation of ProSavana´s estimated consequences, its repercussions and
reception so far, indicates a very evident difference between the official and the
local level. On the level of official interactions between Brazil and Mozambique,
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Niels Søndergaard
there is a consistency between the underlying principles for Brazilian TCDC, the
concrete guidelines they nurture and the resultant initiatives within ProSavana.
Yet, this consistency cannot be identified at the local level, where the estimated
impacts of the program either are not in accordance with the guidelines, or in case
that they are, often fail to produce results reflective of horizontal interactions.
This has become evident through what has come to assume the character of a
top-down implementation of a predefined package of initiatives, with a minimum
of resort to consultancy with the local population. The focus of the initiative
appears to be the proliferation of an agro-industrial development model, and
though smallholder segments are not directly excluded from the scope of the
initiative, the present state of the program´s planning reflects a presumption of
their adaption and eventual insertion into this model.
The differentiated consequences of ProSavana which analysis through a
local-level perspective reveals, also mean that essential elements of Brazilian
technical cooperation such as demand-drivenness, appreciation of local knowledge
and non-conditionality, are hard to identify within this context. Though official
Brazilian-Mozambican relations with regards to ProSavana may be characterized by
these principles, these do not seem to materialize on the level of the communities
directly in contact with the program. The principle on non-interference in domestic
affairs even contains the danger of an interpretation which leads to the neglect of
the needs and demands of localstakeholders, by restricting planning and decision
making to a sphere of intergovernmental exchanges.
Though a genuine intend of spurring inclusive social and economic development
is apparent within the initial formulation of the Master Plan, a lack of attention
to the affected rural populations autochthonous perceptions of development is
evident. This approximates Nel and Taylor´s (2013) notion of mechanical solidarity,
because even though an altruistic intention of aiding someone identified as a less
fortunate ‘other’ is evident, this condescending attitude does not entail an effort
to understand the deeper nature of his/her needs. Such vertical imposition of the
assisting party´s own vision of development is reminiscent of the critique directed
at much of the North-South development assistance.
The transfer of agricultural policies inspired by the Proceder program from
Brazil towards Mozambique, in line with Milhorance (2013) may be perceived as
permeated by a technical logic, which does not account for the capacity of the
home country to absorb these policies, nor of their particular consequences within
different national contexts. ProSavana thereby appears to be highly reflective of
Rev. Carta Inter., Belo Horizonte, v. 11, n. 3, 2016, p. 172-198
Reconsidering the consistency between principles and practices for Technical Cooperation [...]
Naidu´s description of a present situation in Africa, in which rhetoric stressing
a common identity is applied by wealthier developing countries, in order to
push for the expansion of private capital into African markets. This has led to a
dynamic by which the entrance of Southern capital has resulted in the formation
of new class alliances and constellations of political interests (NAIDU, 2011). In
this respect, it is interesting to observe how the nascent triangular constellation
between the Mozambican politico-agrarian elite, and Brazilian public institutions
and agribusiness has constituted the driving force at the core of this particular type
of cooperation project between developing countries. It is equally remarkable how
the opposing forces have consolidated themselves as a transnational movement,
with a foothold in both Mozambique, Brazil and Japan.
The case of ProSavana indicates that new lines of contestation are being
drawn. These materialize as an alignment between political elites and national
champions of intermediate states, LDC ruling classes and international commodity
corporations, in diametric opposition to peasant organizations, local NGO´s,
transnational grassroots networks and civil society organizations. This suggests
the importance of a stronger attentiveness to the subnational level, but also of
considering events and actors engaged at the transnational sphere, when analyzing
the process of formulation and contestation of international cooperation projects.
The analysis of the case of ProSavana indicates that even though horizontal
principles are essential to Brazilian TCDC, they appear to be present mostly at the
intergovernmental bilateral level, while absent at the point of local implementation
of the program. This is grounded in a certain lack of sensibility to the stratified
impact of the project sought implemented, meaning that stakeholders on a range
of different socioeconomic and geographical levels are affected. The same sine qua
non character which is naturally ascribed to official home country participation
and endorsement of development initiatives, does not seem to apply in relation
to the approval of rural communities and civil society concerning ProSavana.
Evaluation of the degree to which the present state of the initiative reflects
a compliance with the central guidelines for Brazilian technical cooperation
therefore leads to a two-folded conclusion, suggesting a horizontal nature of
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Niels Søndergaard
official interactions, contrasted by a vertical imposition in relation to the local
level. This points to the importance of an attentiveness towards the broad range of
national stakeholders which inevitably become involved or affected by large-scale
development programs. It similarly becomes relevant to keep an eye on the process
of transnational mobilization of a range of private and civil society stakeholders,
as part of the process of formation and contestation of such initiatives.
The foregoing analysis also points towards a reevaluation of some of the
constitutive principles below the notion of horizontal cooperation. As in the case
examined, the principle of non-interference implies the danger of an interpretation
which restricts dialogue and joint planning to the governmental level. In a similar
way, examination of ProSavana also clearly indicates the presence of significant
commercial interests, as well as the difficulties related to their reconciliation
with inclusive social development. Yet, the foundational principles for Brazilian
cooperation practices do appear to wield an undisputable power of attraction to
other developing countries. The present analysis, therefore rather than refuting
their intrinsic value, points towards the importance of ensuring their effective
materialization in all of the dimensions of Brazilian TCDC initiatives.
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