Tozzi Green and the petition submitted to the OECD contact point by certain NGOs

The petition is based on allegations and prejudices that are not supported by facts and misrepresents the Company’s role in Madagascar.

On 13 October 2023, three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) ActionAid Italia, the association Collectif pour la défense des terres malgaches (Collectif TANY) and the Malagasy association BIMTT – filed a petition with the OECD National Contact Point (NCP) in Italy with respect to Tozzi Green regarding the agricultural activities in Madagascar of its Malagasy subsidiary (JTF).

According to the NGOs’ erroneous and incomplete reconstruction, the Company systematically ignored the fundamental and land rights of the communities affected by these activities, occupying land considered communal according to local traditions.

According to the NGOs, the Company has gone so far as to use intimidation tactics against the residents in the relevant areas. The petition makes a number of allegations that are both unfounded and defamatory. One of these allegations, land grabbing, i.e. the seizure of land by private parties to the detriment of the Malagasy people, is particularly defamatory given that it is directed at a Company that has always made respect for and support for local community development one of the cornerstones of its operations.

As a result of a widespread media campaign orchestrated by the NGOs behind the petition, the contents of the petition have been picked up by a number of online and print media outlets, thus contributing to the spread of unfounded accusations that seriously damage the reputation of Tozzi Green and its more than ten years of work in Madagascar.

The petition contains serious inaccuracies intended to discredit the Company’s position in the public eye. But that is not all. By disseminating some of the petition’s contents online and on the main social media platforms, the NGOs have blatantly violated the obligations of confidentiality and good faith that characterise the procedure that has been initiated.

For these reasons, the Company asked the NCP to close the case early due to the conflict deliberately created by the NGOs themselves.

Nevertheless, and while reaffirming its absolute respect for the work of international, national and local activism, the Company has decided to focus on transparency on this page.

In this section, we will therefore explain the correctness of our actionsalso in the light of the OECD guidelines referred to by the NGOsand refute the fake news that has been circulating on this matter.

The following aspects need to be clarified from the outset:

  • All the land used for JTF’s agri-food activities has been obtained in full respect and compliance with Malagasy laws and with the involvement of the State of Madagascar;
  • Tozzi Green has been present in Madagascar for over ten years and has always undertaken a series of initiatives for the benefit of local communities. In fact the Company’s actions are characterised by the utmost respect for local communities, the implementation of a broad participatory process, based on dialogue and respect for legal and ethical procedures, and the social and economic development of those involved, first and foremost through the promotion of employment.
  • Over the years, Tozzi Green has also supported local communities from a social, cultural and sporting point of view, by building schools, hospitals and playgrounds, creating local associations and donating educational materials and sports equipment Among the many works carried out is the Centre de Santé Tozzigreen in Satrokala, in the Ihorombe region, a medical clinic that has provided care to more than 200,000 people since its opening, as summarised in the table below.
  • Regarding the allegations about the end use of JTF’s agribusiness products, Tozzi Green’s policy is to support the livelihoods and development of local people: maize production in Madagascar, for example, is sustainable and inclusive and is not subject to export as it is reserved exclusively for local poultry feed companies and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). In fact, all cereal production in 2022-23 was sold to the WFP.

Over 10 years of activity: Tozzi Green’s presence in Madagascar

From sustainable agriculture projects to social initiatives, the Company’s presence in this African country has always been characterised by the utmost respect for local communities.

Through its local subsidiary, JTF, Tozzi Green is involved in agricultural activities in the south of the island, developing a variety of crops on a fragmented area of 6,731.5 hectares. In particular, JTF is present in the Ihorombe region, and more specifically in the Ihosy District, in the municipalities of Satrokala, Andiolava and Ambatolahy, some of the least developed areas in the country.

The location and distribution of the land is one of the many inaccuracies contained in the petition submitted to the NCP. In fact, according to the erroneous and misleading reconstruction provided by the NGOs, JTF would appear to have extensive and well-defined tracts of land at its disposal, almost as if to give the impression of an autonomous enclave for the Company’s use and consumption. The reader is thus mistakenly led to imagine an enormous, single estate extending further than the eye can see.

Here again, however, the reality is quite different.

Here again, however, the reality is quite different. To illustrate what has just been noted, the map of the land available to JTF (the white areas) clearly shows how:

  1. the land parcels are clearly fragmented and also located at a considerable distance from each other;
  2. JTF’s concessions represent an extremely small percentage of the available and mostly unused land.

The distribution of land where JTF operates in the Ihorombe region is shown in white

The total area under concession to JTF represents 1.8% of the agricultural land available in the three rural municipalities of Satrokala, Andiolava and Ambatolahy, while on a regional basis it represents only 0.25% of the available land, as shown in the table below.

It should also be noted that the land used by JTF, like most of the land in the Ihorombe region, has historically been classified as unsuitable for agriculture due to its low fertility.

Having clarified this point, which clearly illustrates the nature of the inaccuracies and allegations contained in the petition, it is important to emphasise that since 2012, the year in which JTF was founded, the company has launched a series of important economic, social and cultural initiatives aimed at the growth of the regions involved in Tozzi Green’s activities.

The most important initiatives are summarised below.

  • Commitment to sustainable agriculture
    Tozzi Green’s philosophy is based on the belief that agriculture can play a key role in the growth and sustainable development of an area, in the fight against poverty and in food and nutrition security. JTF has therefore adopted a corporate policy in Madagascar to promote sustainable and inclusive agriculture, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, JTF’s efforts focus on the development of integrated agricultural practices to increase productivity and crop yields while respecting ecosystems and progressively improving soil quality. In fact, agricultural practices in Madagascar are based on crop rotation between cereals, grain legumes and soil-improving crops, and no monocultures have ever been grown in the country, as claimed in the petition. Crop diversification has contributed to an increase in biodiversity in areas that would otherwise have experienced gradual decline. Despite the high initial cost of the improvement programmes, which did not generate any income, JTF has succeeded in introducing different crop varieties after years of experimentation. Contrary to what the NGOs claim, significant results have been achieved by limiting the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. On the other hand, Tozzi Green is always careful to respect the environment and to limit the use of phytosanitary products, which are used only when absolutely necessary and, above all, not systematically.
  • Social, cultural and sports initiatives
    Investment in the country has had a direct impact on employment, bringing economic benefits to an area that offers little or no employment opportunities, with the exception of the breeding of zebu – Madagascar’s typical cattle – by wealthy and large local landowners. JTF employs around 200 permanent staff and at least another 200-250 seasonal workers, who receive a salary fully in line with Malagasy regulations.
    Tozzi Green’s commitment to local communities also extends to social, cultural and sporting initiatives. Efforts have resulted in the creation of educational and health infrastructure, such as the Tozzi Green pre-school, the aforementioned Centre de Santé Tozzigreen, the creation of playgrounds and local associations, as well as the donation of educational materials and sports equipment. A particularly important role is played by the Rugby Academy Ihorombe, a development education project using rugby in the communities of the Satrokala and Andiolava schools. This project aims to contribute to the empowerment of local girls by promoting gender equality, including through the training of young educators and teachers. All the Group’s social and other initiatives in Madagascar and the rest of the world can be found in our Sustainability Report 2020-2021.