EmVest Asset Management

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EmVest Asset Management is a joint venture between Emergent Asset Management and Grainvest, a subsidiary of the RussellStone Group.[1] "Based out of Pretoria, South Africa, EmVest operates the African Land Fund (ALF) and lists social responsibility as a guiding tenet of its investment strategy, citing a desire to bring “economic uplift to communities through commercially viable, first world practices.” To this end, it maintains investments in 5 developing countries— Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa — and plans to invest in 14 countries throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Arable land in this region is substantially undervalued relative to arable land on other continents; this provides the basis for projected returns upwards of 25% per annum."[2]

Land Grabbing in Mozambique

EmVest is a major player in the global land grab. According to the Oakland Institute:[3]

"EmVest’s project in Matuba, Mozambique is two-phased. It aims to develop virgin land into arable land using irrigation; it will then use the arable land to produce food crops. The undertaking promises significant returns primarily because of depressed production costs. According to a summary prepared for prospective investors, EmVest Limpopo acquired 2,000 hectares of land at “nominal cost” from the Mozambican government for a lease period of 50 years. Cheap irrigation will be facilitated by unlimited access to water charged by surface irrigated rather than total volume used. The latest ALF Quarterly Update reports that the irrigation system is 98% complete along with the local water authority, HICEP, entitling EmVest to utilize all the water they require from the canal for their irrigation needs. The project further benefits from fiscal incentives offered by the government of Mozambique. These include:
  • Exemption from customs duties on capital inputs • Exemption from VAT
  • Reduced profit tax — 80% until 2015 and 50% from 2016 to 2025
  • Profit repatriation for a base period of 25 years, renewable for ten-year periods
  • Optional repatriation of the investment’s total equity"

According to Business Insider:[4]

"The scandal: Government authorities allegedly forced landowners to sign papers releasing 1,000 hectares of land. Emergent says it has 1,000 hectares and is in the process of obtaining rights for the second 1,000. The company says in its verbal communication to investors that it already owns the second 1,000 hectares. The company also claims to have a strong relationship with the local community (which their Facebook group seems to verify). Community members however speak of a conflict that is "because EmVest wants land where people live and farm, but we need this land for our children and to feed ourselves.""

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